Taking a moment to talk about School Perseverance

By Elizabeth Courchesne


This week, schools and community organizations across Quebec celebrated Hooked on School Days, promoting academic perseverance, with the idea that even the smallest of gestures can make a big difference in a student’s life. Every year has a theme and this year it is “take a moment for them,” a moment to celebrate students and create some momentum to carry them to the end of the school year.


Young people have not been spared the effects and many challenges brought on by the pandemic. On the educational side, adapting to new teaching methods, social distancing, and a lack of or changes to extracurricular activities have all played an important role in students’ school perseverance, but there is often more. We have seen first-hand that our vulnerable students face more barriers than most, such as food insecurity, poor or no internet access, poor sleep patterns, and less opportunity for family support. Helping children with schoolwork is low on the priority list when many families are dealing with the daily stress of how to pay the rent or deal with job insecurity.


February marks the halfway point of the school year and can also be one of the most challenging months for students. With the winter blues currently heightened by pandemic restrictions, student motivation and engagement are at a low point. Hooked on School week provides us all with the opportunity to speak frankly with our youth about why it is important to stay in school but also to make sure that they know they are not alone. We are, more than ever, committed to helping the students with the support they need for their education but also their mental health. Our experience has shown that our participants thrive when they have individualized support from people who care about their success.


We believe it is also a moment for the community to highlight and acknowledge the Stanstead students who have demonstrated their resilience and their willingness to succeed. Whether it be in-person or online, over 140 local youth have accessed education and career support at Phelps so far this year. We have been blown away by their widely varying sources of motivation, their ability to adapt, and the sacrifices they have had to make this year.


We feel fortunate and proud that they are committed to their education and that they continue to show up during these challenging times.


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Finding the time to read - practical tips to fit more reading into your family's hectic life

By Katie Lowry


Would you like to expose your child to 1.8 million words per year? Of course you would, but how? 20 minutes. Research has shown that just 20 minutes of reading each day adds up to 1.8 million words per year! You can learn more about this here. 

As parents, we know reading is good for our kids. Most of us have been told that exposing our little ones to books early on helps build life long learners and paves the way for future school success. When I first had my daughter I thought finding 20 minutes a day would be a breeze, but then life happened.


Like so many families, my day is typically filled with prepping meals, getting everyone to school and work on time, homework, bath time and cleaning up. The daily grind often leaves me feeling like I have very few moments, and often even less energy available to share a good book with my kiddos. Recently I realized I needed to find a way to ensure we made time to read together. 

Here are a few tips on ways that my family has found more time for books :


Tip #1

Reading isn't only for bedtime. Look at your daily routine and find a time that a quick book or chapter may be shared. This could be during breakfast, tub time or before getting out of bed to start the day.


Tip #2 

Enjoy stories in all forms. Reading doesn't have to come from a traditional book. Look into finding audiobooks that can be enjoyed in the car while shuttling the kids to and from activities. 


Tip #3

Make it a family activity. Enlist older siblings to do the reading. Not only do the little ones love getting the extra attention and time from siblings but this is great fluency practice for big brother or sister as well. 


Tip #4 

Take advantage of waiting times. Keep a book or magazines in your bag so that they can be shared when waiting for curbside pick up of groceries,  when picking up a child from school or waiting to go into a doctors appointment.


Tip #5

Books don't only belong on the bookshelf, make them available, everywhere.  Find places throughout your home to create small collections of books that can be explored. A little corner in the kitchen, a stack in the bathroom, a shelf in the playroom. One of my favorite spots is a pocket behind the driver seat in the car. Keep books within reach of little hands and be sure to update them regularly to hold their interest.


The impacts of reading with your children daily won't only benefit them. It gives you a chance to connect and spend quality time with them. Perhaps my favorite benefit of exploring books with my kids is that it gives me an opportunity to tap into the way they see the world, something that is often very refreshing.


I hope that you are able to try one or more of these tips and I wish you and your family happy reading. 


5 Ways to Apply Yourself in 2021

By Elizabeth Courchesne


With 2020 now behind us, many of us are looking to make 2021 a better and brighter year. What better way to do so than to apply yourself to your education or career. Applying yourself can look differently, depending on what your goals are. Here are a few ways that you can apply yourself with a little help from Phelps this year.






There are many proven benefits to getting your high school diploma. Whether you can commit to full-time studies at New Horizons or can only dedicate a few hours here and there through Distance Education, there is a way to complete the diploma that works for you. For students in the Stanstead area, the Adult Ed classroom (located in the Sunnyside CLC), launched last year, is back up and running. The Sunnyside CLC classroom is a quiet space for Adult Ed students to access the support of a teacher, without traveling all the way to New Horizons in Sherbrooke. The classroom is open to anyone registered at either New Horizons or Distance Education through ETSB. Getting your high school diploma is a step towards opening up new opportunities for yourself. If finishing high school has been on your mind, the Compass program at Phelps Helps can get you started!



If you like learning new skills through hands-on practice, vocational training may be for you! Vocational training centers across the province are now accepting applications for their professional programs such as Welding & Fitting, Secretarial Studies, Mechanics, and Health Assistance & Nursing Care. Most classes offer the choice to do the theory online with practice, and exams, in a secure class environment. Registration is currently ongoing, with the deadline falling a few weeks before the program start date. With so many great options available in the Eastern Townships there is sure to be a program for everyone’s interests!



If you are looking to continue your post-secondary education, the CÉGEP application season is in full swing. Applications are accepted in a round-system using the SRAM website. There is a limit to one school per round, and there are three rounds total. The deadline for the first round is March 1st at 11:59 pm. Applications received in the first round have priority over the following rounds, so it is important to submit your application before the first deadline. Compass is currently offering free support to students applying to CÉGEP. Don’t wait to contact us because the deadline is quickly approaching! Not sure what to program to study? Compass can help you compare different programs available to help you pick the best fit for you. 



Similar to CÉGEP, the deadline for most Canadian undergraduate programs is March 1st, 2021 at 11:59 pm. However, there is only one deadline for Fall admission. It is important to submit your application before the deadline. Applications can be submitted by visiting the university website and completing the application form for your program of choice. There are so many great programs available to study at the university level. If you need help going over all the options and requirements, Compass can help you access and understand all the important information you need to make your decision as well as submit your application. If it is the cost of University that is putting you off, Compass can help you find and apply to scholarships and bursaries, as well as student loans that can ease the financial burden. 



Many people have lost their jobs or have had their job descriptions altered by the ongoing pandemic. The good news is that there are still many jobs available, the pandemic has simply shifted the areas of demand. For instance, one of the areas of need that the pandemic has highlighted is in the hospitals and other essential services. The Compass program can help to update your CV, write a compelling cover letter, and even help you brush up on your interview skills. Compass has received funding from Employment Quebec for the new Youth Outreach and Attachment Project which provides youth 15-30 with an individual support counsellor that will accompany them on their journey to acquire the skills and experiences needed to successfully transition to the job market. For participants who complete the 3-phase project, there is a $1000 completion bonus. 

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