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Employees Complete New NCCCS Equity Coach Training

Portrait photos of PCC instructor Trish Gaither and PCC Assistant Vice President of Student Support Jasmin Spain

WINTERVILLE—A pair of Pitt Community College employees have completed new training offered by the N.C. Community College System (NCCCS) to foster educational equity on its 58-member campuses.

The inaugural Equity Coach Academy began in the spring and featured participation from 20 coaches—representing 10 of the state’s community colleges—and seven guests (from Gaston College, the NCCCS Office, and the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research). PCC Assistant Vice President of Student Support Jasmin Spain and Sociology Instructor Trish Gaither represented Pitt in the program’s very first cohort.

Kara Battle, vice president/chief academic officer at Durham Technical Community College, served as equity coach project manager for the new training initiative. She described the academy’s first participants as “innovative, creative, solutions-driven and reflective” and said she hoped they would use the skills and knowledge they gained through their training to “help enhance diversity, equity and inclusion” on their home campuses.

Six virtual sessions were offered through the academy between April 26 and Sept. 1, starting with “Equity Coaches as Leaders” and ending with “Advancing Racial Equity through Transformational Change.” In between were discussions on equitable outcomes, race and a “racially-structured” society.

“My goal as an equity coach is to move from the theory of equity to action that facilitates equity-mindedness, creates an equitable perspective of the way forward at Pitt Community College, and measures equitable outcomes for students,” Spain said. “I want to assist PCC in its efforts to skillfully see through an equitable lens, especially in regard to policy, by having courageous but direct and unapologetic dialogue about how these policies prevent historically-represented, marginalized and minoritized students from being successful.”

Gaither said she felt “honored and grateful” to have been part of the inaugural academy and added that her work as an instructor provided a solid foundation for the training she received.

“As a sociology instructor, I study social inequities and ways to make positive changes,” she said. “This training provided helpful frameworks and opportunities for discussion and reflection, which I greatly appreciated.”

Gaither said she hoped to continue working with Spain and others on campus to provide a culture of belonging for all PCC students, especially those from marginalized communities.

“Changing culture is a tall order, but I believe if we are willing to be honest with ourselves and open to change, we can see more of our students thrive,” she said. “I truly want every student to feel like they fully belong at PCC.”

A second cohort of equity coaches is expected to begin training in either March or April.

11/18/2021