Coaching is at the heart of the “ATD Way. To continue to strengthen our coaching supports and to better match them with the life cycle of student success work at the colleges, ATD is strategically complementing its long-time cadre of contracted coaches with employee coaches with deep subject matter expertise in data and holistic student support redesign. ”


These staff coaches have been critical in the development of additional materials for use by colleges and coaches, including a new coaching toolkit. The feedback loop and new materials developed by ATD staff coaches have, in turn, allowed us to provide a more consistent experience for ATD Network colleges. In late 2018, in order to advance large scale implementation of the pathways framework, Achieving the Dream and our 12 partner Pathways Collaborative organizations extended an invitation for applications for an inaugural cohort of 35 pathways coaches. These coaches, the first of a planned 100 planned nationwide, came together in March 2019 to be trained on how to deliver strong pathways trainings to colleges. The training focused on the AACC Pathways Collaborative curriculum for pathways coaching, and worked with coaches on how to have discussions about equity and to infuse Holistic Student Supports in their work with colleges.

Dr. Tom Broxson, an ATD Coach and Pierce College District Dean of Science and Math, was initially attracted to working at a community college because of his own family’s experience.

A local community college helped lift his family out of poverty, and he chose to become a community college faculty member because he felt he could have a greater impact. Broxson served on the Pierce faculty for years, before being asked to become a full-time administrator. As he wrestled with the decision, which would mean giving up the daily interaction with students, a former supervisor and mentor helped him reframe the decision. “She told me that I’d still be teaching, but it would be a different audience – it’s learning, and it’s communicating what I’ve learned with peers,” shared Broxson.

Around the time he moved into an administrative role, Pierce College was exploring how to close equity gaps and increase student retention and completion and joined ATD as part of the 2012 cohort. The college quickly made tremendous institutional changes that have resulted in a graduation rate that is nearly 20 percentage points above the national average, and one that exceeds national averages in every category by race. Broxson has led Pierce College’s ATD work, and the college remains committed to finding new ways to increase student success while removing the barriers that stand in the way of their students’ educational goals.

“I remember our ATD Coaches really encouraging to us to look at our data, not shy away from it, and always share it. They encouraged us to be consistent, and not back down.” Broxson recalled as standing shared Pierce’s disaggregated data with the college for the first time. It was a transformational moment for the college, and one that informs his work with other colleges as an ATD coach.

As he reflected on some of the early gatherings with his fellow coaches, Broxson was almost surprised to find himself among this group of peers. “It can be an intimidating crowd to hang out in,” shared Broxson. “I’m learning everything I can from fellow coaches who are among the best in higher education. The professional development has been fantastic, and spending time [in trainings with peers] has been a terrific learning opportunity.”

“I really care about this work. I came to work at a community college because I saw it as a key leverage point to change our society and the world,” Broxson said. “Having the ability to work with so many first-generation college students as they change the trajectory of their family’s lives is incredible. It’s an amazing opportunity for me to be able to help an entire college change even more lives.”

Though Dr. Broxson no longer teaches in the classroom, he may be doing the most important teaching of his life as he helps ATD Network colleges make the transformation they need in order to change the social and economic mobility for thousands of families across their communities.