Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College provides holistic support to students

Success Team
June 14, 2022
Meghan Ensell

COVID-19 changed and evolved many aspects of education, and the Student Success Team at Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College was no exception. The pandemic required MLFTC’s Office of Student Services to reevaluate the team’s services, reconceptualize how it provides support and ultimately expand. 

The pre-pandemic Student Success Team was based on a coordinated care model and included two career coaches, a wellness coach, financial coach and student engagement coordinator, in addition to a supervisor. The team provided services to all students, whether they took classes on campus or online, with a focus on freshmen and students who were referred by an advisor or faculty member for academic or personal reasons. 

The pandemic required the team to pivot and more broadly reach and better support students. They did so by expanding their team to include a coordinated care strategist for graduate students and a director of student success. In addition, the team collected data from advising staff focus groups and established data collection tools for student feedback to evaluate their services. 

Students were forced to transition from face-to-face learning to remote learning, which had significant effects on motivation, mental health, academic achievement and engagement, says Erica Mitchell, executive director of Student Services. The pandemic also required the Student Success Team to learn how to engage and motivate students in different ways. “Almost overnight, we had to learn to support students in a completely virtual environment. We moved all of the traditional campus events to Zoom, provided support to students who suddenly found themselves in dire need of financial assistance and supported students who lacked motivation to persist,” Mitchell says. 

As the Student Success Team continues to reinvent itself, it now embraces a systems-based care model and multi-tiered approach to student support. Instead of working from separate teams that are brought together, situationally, to address student needs, it transitioned to an interconnected system that is built on a foundation of unified vision and values with a transparent process. 

“Our goal,” says Wadell Blackwell, director of the Student Success Team, “is to provide more personalized and equitable student support, delivering high-quality experiences, increasing retention and improving learning outcomes.” 

The college’s success team has expertise in the field of education and provides individualized and personalized support to MLFTC students.

“Our Systems of Care model ensures student needs are treated holistically and comprehensively through nested systems of support provided by a team of professional staff, faculty and highly trained student peer mentors,” says Mitchell.

Wrap-around support is facilitated amongst many collaborating units within the college and across the university by putting the student at the center, focusing on wellness, skill building and connection to resources. Blackwell says, "Support is individualized, culturally competent and designed to create an optimal learning environment for all students.”

The student care ecosystem is made up of core and supporting systems. The core MLFTC members address both student-specific and systemic needs, while other members come and go as needed. 

  • Core support (students, faculty, site leads, placement coordinators and academic advisors): Provides direct, classroom-level personalized learning strategies using targeted instruction and data-driven decision making, and focuses on increasing student ownership and reflection.
  • Coordinated care (coordinated care strategists, the Office of Professional Experiences, success coaches and program coordinators): Provides mid-level support for moderately escalated, complex or sensitive circumstances that require additional decision making, risk-assessment or specific coordination.
  • Care management (executive director of Academic Services, director of student success, vice deans and Office of Professional Experiences): Provides leadership-level support for the most sensitive, serious and complex situations requiring high-level decision making, systems intervention, policy considerations or risk mitigation.

Meet the success coaches

Natoya Brown, wellness coach 

Lauren Lee, academic coach

Madeline Prehoda, career coach 

Jeff Tellin, financial coach 

Meet the coordinated care specialists 

Megan Gamarra, graduate coordinated care specialist

Jody Pratt, undergraduate coordinated care specialist