Friendship Center adopts tutoring program

The Brandon Friendship Center has launched a new tutoring program to help students struggling in school.

Head tutor Ron Houle, specializing in numeracy, said the Student Success program is geared toward youth between kindergarten to Grade 12 needing literacy or numeracy help.

“If they need extra help it’s a safe place to come in and learn and get the extra help they need to succeed,” Houle said. “To see the young people able to succeed at their goals is an amazing feeling. You can see it in their eyes and their faces.”

The tutoring team has recruited 10 instructors who will offer a mix of online and in-person programming, available one-on-one or in groups. There is no capacity limit on the number of students who can register for literacy or numeracy help. He noted the number of registered students will be informed by public health measures in place.

Tutors are ready to pivot and adapt based on COVID-19 public health measures and can move to online meetings for students if needed.

Student-tutor sessions will be one-hour lessons with times set by the learner and instructor.

The Student Success program has created a safe space for learners working one-on-one with tutors to help improve their education.

“You get to know them. You get to know their learning style and the way they learn best. It’s a trust thing with them as well; they become more comfortable to ask [the longer they work with a tutor],” Houle said.

Tutors can see the students’ confidence grow each week when they come to the center for help.

The team is also planning workshops and camps for the summer that will be designed based on the needs of youth in the program. The center will also host homework sessions if public health measures allow.

The ultimate goal is to make learning fun and accessible.

“I’ve been doing it for a long time. You just have that connection and then you find what their interests are and mix everything together. It just makes it more fun for them and more relaxed,” Houle said. “They don’t realize they’re learning, so it’s not a chore.”

The camps planned for the program will be centered on numeracy, literacy and computer literacy.

Computer literacy is critical because students are now required to access information online to help them work on assignments. The hope is to help them excel in navigating the internet independently and safely.

It is important having the opportunity to provide tutoring to students, Houle said, as many have faced incredible learning, uncertainty, anxiety and adversity during COVID-19.

“It’s going to be a home base. It’s going to be regular. They’re going to know that they can come here,” Houle said. “The more we can help them the better off we are and the better off they are.”

Students have experienced gaps and learning losses during the pandemic and the Student Success program will help alleviate these educational strains.

“We’re doing what we can on our part to help them.”

He noted the program will have an elder available that can be approached if a student requests cultural knowledge. Any other cultural teachings will be woven into camps or workshops based on youth interests.

“We’re going to try and accommodate the learners more than anything,” Houle said.

The tutoring program was made possible through federal funding distributed by the National Association of Friendship Centers. It is a continuation of funding received last year.

The tutoring will be available until March 2023 and builds on programming that was established in March 2021.

Initially, student interest in the program was because at the time, students were transitioning from in-class learning to online learning. The inaugural year of the program proved productive, he said, adding they were also able to host programs and camps for youth over the summer months and provide access to laptops if needed.

The program saw 16 students register in 2021.

The 2022 edition of the Student Success program will offer tutoring in literacy, math and science. Houle said the first year of the program saw most students engage in math and science.

The success of the program will be based on if participating youth are becoming confident in their learning abilities, Houle said. He hopes young people will connect with the initiative, and when they are older know they can access tutoring programs if they are having trouble in school.

“Hopefully, there will be another program like this running where they can go to and they’ll be familiarized at what goes on at a program like this and be more comfortable to access that help,” Houle said.

The Student Success program will officially begin Feb. 15 with a special open house session and registration day taking place from 4 to 7 pm at 602 Rosser Ave. Houle described it as an opportunity to visit, meet tutors and learn more about the program’s offerings.

“It’s good that they can come in and get a feel for the place because it can be more comfortable,” Houle said.


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