CCA success coach builds rapport on road to success

​Christopher Manda works as a success coach out of the Philadelphia center.

Sometimes, even virtual learning students need in-person guidance to stay on track. Success coach Christopher Manda saw the impact at CCA’s Philadelphia Center when a high school senior admitted that he once was “a pain for all the staff here” but was now urging classmates to finish their work on time.

“It’s basically the same message we share,” Manda said. “Putting it off is an excuse. You have no reason to have that excuse if you come to this center because we will work with you.”

CCA’s Family Service Centers include the one in Philadelphia where Manda works. The service centers are places where students can participate in their lessons and do their schoolwork with the bonus of access to tutoring and support aligned with their studies. Whether students are behind or ahead in their work, teachers and success coaches can help keep them on track.

Success coaches make sure that students stay focused and can overcome any obstacles, whether inside or outside of school. The coaches work within the CCA curriculum to help learners “succeed at the highest level or catch up as quickly as they can,” Manda said.

“This role is built on rapport with kids,” he said. “They still have their (virtual) lessons online and all the magic they do in the LiveLesson rooms. I’m lucky enough to be the person that pushes them in the right direction. It’s very important to know how grandma’s doing, or get to know what’s going on in their lives, so I can use that to motivate them.”

Inspired by teachers who pushed him in the right direction, Manda left jobs in managing recreation sites and went into education so he could provide similar guidance to young people. He helps students and families navigate the challenges of virtual learning and reap its advantages.

“Sometimes, it’s just reading and following directions,” Manda said. “Sometimes, it’s easier to get the student on the phone with the teacher here than it is at home. Sometimes, it’s putting them on the right path to finish the courses.”

One student had outside demands that included two younger siblings at home. At her graduation, she gave Manda a rose, signifying his importance in guiding her through school. The girl’s mother personally thanked him for his help and the weekly talks that kept her updated.

“Understanding Mom, understanding the student, understanding their situation, I knew when to call,” he said. “That’s the rapport we create with our students and our families.”

Success coaches stress good citizenship, Manda said. It might be guidance in finding the right job, learning to communicate in the workplace or dressing appropriately. It comes down to preparing students to meet the expectations they will encounter outside of school.

“We want to mold our students into young men and women,” Manda said. “It’s not just about school but the next step after school. Those little things and getting them to be a well-rounded person are just as important to us as academics.”