Phelps returns for the 2020-2021 School Year!

After 6 months of intermittent schooling, we are excited to get back to seeing our wonderful participants and we look forward to working together to help them keep up, work hard and thrive. Starting September 15th, Phelps will be welcoming students with open but distant arms for tutoring at both elementary and secondary levels. We will be offering online and in-person sessions for high school tutoring, in-person sessions for elementary tutoring, as well as the early attachment Spark program that was forced to stop this Spring.

 

Our model is built on the individual support we are able to give our participants. To ensure another successful year, we are currently looking for volunteers for in-person tutoring sessions at the elementary and high school level. For more information, please contact emackinnon@phelpshelps.ca.

 

We have put in place strict measure to keep our kids and tutors safe - our COVID-19 Protocol details our approach.

 

LOCKDOWN SIDE-EFFECTS? Now with back to school or return to workplaces, there is a feeling of apprehension or perhaps it is a delayed reaction to the last 6 months of a hugely restricted lifestyle that was previously unthought-of for most people. Will there be a second wave? Will there be psychological side effects in the long-run on our children, on us? 

 

For now, there is not enough data to be able to answer these questions and the measures in place are based on what we have learnt since spring. There is increasing awareness that keeping children isolated from their peers and consistent learning environments negatively impacts families as well as the vitality of the community. Other barriers to education that have been widely publicized include the lack of internet connections at home.This has been a concern for a while, but as with many other COVID-related issues, it has been brought to the forefront of the many barriers affecting academic success.

 

SOCIO-ECONOMIC GAPS, especially in rural areas have widened. Helping children with school work is low on the priority list when many families are dealing with the daily stress of how to pay next month’s rent, buy groceries or deal with job insecurity. We have seen first-hand that our vulnerable students face more barriers - food insecurity, poor or no internet access, poor sleep patterns, less opportunity for family support with learning makes it that much harder to get back on track. The issues highlighted, combined with the fact that many highschoolers got a taste for full-time employment as well as a prolonged period of no school work means we are anticipating a higher demand for our programs.

 

WHAT ABOUT PHELPS AMIDST ALL OF THIS? As previously mentioned in our last blog post, “Phelps Turns Digital” during April, in the height of lockdown, Phelps was able to launch online tutoring specifically tailored to high-schoolers and organized to fit around the new schedules of the many youth who decided to join the workforce. This support continued throughout July and some of August with the pilot program “Second Chance,” which offers summer tutoring to those wanting to catch up in their weaker subjects or retake exams at the end of the summer.

 

THE RESULTS ARE POSITIVE. Encouragingly, students who had not attended Phelps programs in several years reached out for help. The students who in the past have demonstrated the most behavioural challenges and resistance to school work were requesting extra math tutoring and even signed up for Second Chance, despite not having the pull-in of exam retakes. 83% of participants from the online tutoring and Second Chance programs combined, reported  improved academic confidence with 52% saying their organizational skills improved. 

 

PHELPS HELP'S COLLABORATION WITH THE SCHOOL BOARDS and the local schools they serve is paramount to the success of the programs. Fostering communication and brainstorming together is vital to reach the common goal of improved graduation rates. For example, Phelps was able to address the issue of no internet connection for their participants, collaborating with the school boards to identify and distribute wifi sticks to all Stanstead participants who did not have access to the online learning material. Due to our unique position in the academic community, we were able to act as a liaison between the schools and families to encourage and improve communication for 86% of our participants - no small feat when striving to improve attitudes around schools and teachers!

 

MOVING FORWARD. Our accumulated experience in working with young people since 2012 has been validated by what we have learnt from the COVID situation. Young people thrive when they have individualized support from people who care about their success. The bizarre life we have all been leading has highlighted the challenges the educational system faces but it has also presented an opportunity to change things. The importance of attachment to the community, feelings of belonging, and an awareness that our young people need to know someone is rooting for them.

 

We look forward to working with our students to help them keep up, know that they are supported, and help them to recognize that they have the ability to succeed. Despite the unique challenges of rural towns, we strongly believe that we will continue to see the substantial changes in our youth and renewed vitality in the town of Stanstead.

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