Blog Archive

Family Literacy at Portfolio Night

Family literacy can be encouraged in many different ways from reading with your kids to learning about numbers and money. It is a way for parents to be lifelong learners and to be more engaged with their children’s education. One of our goals at Phelps is to introduce creative activities that can be designed for young children to learn about letters and numbers at home. During Portfolio Night at Sunnyside Elementary, Phelps put together simple activities for young students and parents to do while they waited to meet with the teachers; molding clay to the shape of numbers and letters was one of the fun options that families had the opportunity to try. By integrating simple literacy activities at home, parents can help awaken a love of learning and reading in their children, helping them flourish at school. This week for March Break, Phelps will be opening their door to families on Thursday, sharing the Phelps library and showing parents how to encourage their children to become active readers through a special read aloud. Families are welcome to join us at 1:00 at the Stone Circle in Stanstead for outdoor games followed by snacks and games at 272 rue Dufferin today.

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Teamwork

Teamwork has always been a central part of Phelps. The opportunity to work collaboratively often generates that spark that ignites something truly special. The concept of Phelps started from two individuals brainstorming about how to address a real need within the community, and then reaching out to local resources to make a plan of action. Many community members knew that the systemic issue within Stanstead – one in three students do not finish high school – was never going to be effectively tackled by a single person; local youth needed a motivated team to support them. From the amazing work of our co-founders, to the dedication of our board, to the commitment of our staff and to the enthusiasm of our volunteers, Phelps is one of the best examples of teamwork that I have had the privilege to be a part of. As a small rural non-profit, Phelps has faced many obstacles, but they have been overcome by the creativity and hard work of its team. Teamwork offers support, encouragement and a different perspective. With our younger students, we encourage teamwork through hands-on chanllenges, showing them the infinite number of outcomes possible when working with others. On Tuesday evening, we had 24 high school students arrive after school, ready to study and do homework. As a team, our staff and volunteers welcomed them and made sure that every student was provided the individualized support they needed, whether it was math help, sitting in a quiet corner with one of our laptops or simply talking about the school day while working on a study guide. It was Hellen Keller that once said, "Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much."

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Hooked on School Week CONTINUED!

Hooked on School week, which emphasizes school perseverance, was a busy week for Phelps and continued into this week for Sunnyside Elementary. Last week we asked students to choose a growth mindset quote as a team and make a poster with it, explaining why they connected with that particular quote. “If you can dream it, you can do it” and “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are” are just two of the quotes selected by our Phelps grade 3 through 6 participants. On Monday, grade 5 & 6 students walked down from their school to visit Phelps’ space at 272 rue Dufferin, a locale used weekly by our high school students. Our Phelps team welcomed them there, giving them a tour and showing them that once they are in high school, they will still have a place for them to study and get help with their homework. Katie Lowry, our Executive Director, was asked to present during Sunnyside’s assembly on Tuesday. She prepared a topic and a mini-talk about school perseverance, and was going to ask a few Phelps participants to come up and talk about their quote-posters. Much to our surprise, her plan went slightly awry: as soon as the principal announced that Katie was going to talk to the school, the entire group of Phelps participants – over 20 students – got up with her and proceeded to the stage. Smiling, she adapted her plan and continued on, talking about the power of perseverance and how adding ‘not yet’ to the end of your sentence might just give you the courage to learn a new skill or keep trying. “I’m not good at soccer YET”, “I haven’t finished school YET”, “I am not in love with fractions YET”. What an inspiring two weeks!

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Hooked on School

Hooked on School week is upon us! For this one week in February, schools and community organizations across the entire province of Quebec highlight a topic that Phelps lives and breathes: perseverance. Phelps started in 2012 to help reduce the unacceptably high drop out rates in our area:  one in three students in Stanstead do not complete high school, a fact that drives much of what Phelps does. 5 years after launch, we see a change not only in the youth but within the entire community; if you drive through town you will see the white and green perseverance flag outside town hall. 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: to continue learning, to get a better job and to have choices. As we asked our students to add their names to a ‘perseverance window mural’, making a commitment to finishing high school, an array of declarations were heard “I’m going to finish high school just to prove them wrong”, “Of course I’m going to finish high school!”, “I can’t see the future, but I want to stay in school”. For Phelps and our team, that is more than enough.  

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Perseverance

February is Black History Month, and at Phelps, we took the opportunity to talk about this subject with our elementary students during our literacy lesson on Tuesday. In Quebec, we are also heading towards Hooked on School week, when the importance of perseverance is showcased. In a small rural community, Black History Month is an opportunity to learn about a different culture. By discussing historical topics such as slavery and the underground railroad, students realize the full extent of the meaning and importance of perseverance. Phelps’ literacy lesson this week, with the help of a book called Henry’s Freedom Box, challenged students to think about the realities of a different time in history. Our students talked about hope, courage and family, noting the importance of freedom.

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Family Literacy Week

This week Phelps would like to highlight the value of collaboration between community organization. Phelps has developed many wonderful partnerships over the last 5 years; all playing an important role in helping Phelps to offer diverse services that truly meet the needs and interests of the Stanstead area community. Last Saturday, as part of Family Literacy Week, Phelps teamed up with Literacy in Action to hold a family literacy event in Stanstead. Literacy in Action, is a volunteer-based non-profit organization which offers free learning opportunities aimed at improving the essential skills people need for work, learning and life. We were also pleased to have Imagine Stanstead, a local project devoted to adult learning taking part as well. With over 25 participants, ranging in age from 3 – 92 years old, the Arts & Scraps Literacy Event was a true success. Thank you to all the families who participated, and to the partners who helped bring a fun learning activity to our community!

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Samantha: A Phelps Volunteer

Phelps’ weekly elementary and high school sessions have started back up again this week, and we are once again looking for volunteers to help make our programs thrive. We welcome cegep and university students, as well as community members young and old. Over the last couple of years, we have had several education students from Bishop’s University volunteer with our organization. Samantha, a student in the elementary of education program and a Bishop’s rugby player started volunteering with Phelps in the fall. She wanted to share some of her Phelps experiences:

 

Why do you volunteer?  

I volunteer because I want to make a positive impact on others and give back to the community. I also think it is a great way to gain experience working with students. 

 

What do you think students gain by attending Phelps’ sessions?  

I think students gain a sense of inclusion and belonging. Phelps raises students’ confidence and also makes them feel important and cared about.    

  

Can you describe one of your favourite moments with the students? 

One of my favourite moments was a day when I was doing math homework with an elementary boy. He told me he did not know how to do the work so he wasn't going to do it. After explaining the steps to him he was more willing to try. Once he completed the homework and I checked that the questions were done correctly he was very happy. I think I helped the student feel capable and confident which is very important to me. I also really enjoy playing sports with the students to help raise their confidence and make sure all students are included and having fun!

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STANSTEAD INTEREST SURVEY: Survey to bring free community activities to Stanstead area

The Imagine Stanstead project, along with a network of local community groups, is devoted to supporting adult learning. While already offering and planning a variety of free activities for the community, Imagine Stanstead wants to hear from YOU. Imagine Stanstead and Phelps wants to know what type of learning activities community members would like to benefit from. Adult learning activities can include everyday life skills like budgeting or yoga, or workplace skills, such as machining or accounting. 

Over the next month, Imagine Stanstead and Phelps Helps team members will be distributing a short survey to community members, asking what their interests are. The survey will be called the Stanstead Interest Survey. The survey will be made available for pick up in public spaces around town or you can watch for our team at various locations & events throughout the community.

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Yuyin: A Phelps Volunteer

Phelps’ weekly elementary and high school sessions have started back up again this week, and we are once again looking for volunteers to help make our programs thrive. We welcome cegep and university students, as well as community members young and old. Over the last couple of years, we have had several international students from Bishop’s University volunteer with our organization. Yuyin, a student in the Masters of Education program has been volunteering with Phelps’ elementary programs for a year now and wanted to share some of her Phelps experiences:

 

Why do you volunteer?  

   I wanted to get more involved in the community during my stay here and give back in a meaningful way. I also really like working with children: they are very energetic and creative. It would be very nice if I could have a positive influence on their lives.  

 

What do you think volunteers gain by attending Phelps’ sessions?  

    For me, I understand the education system in English schools in Quebec a bit more now.  Furthermore, I learned to be patient when I was with the children; they need time to grow.  At the same time, it is important to not treat them like babies, they have their own ideas about how the world works.  They can be responsible and grown-up if you treat them accordingly.    

  

Can you describe one of your favourite moments with the students? 

    There were many enjoyable moments, such as running around in the woods, playing games in the gym and working on team challenges with the kids. However, one moment stands out: we went outside to play before doing the activities inside and the students started opening up to me. They surprised me by totally trusting me and starting to share their life stories with me; they talked about their pets, family members, favorite games, etc.  Sometimes, all you need to do is to just listen quietly.    

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The Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us and mother nature seems to have obliged by giving us the winter wonderland so often associated with this time of year. Somehow, when the world is doused in white, things getting quieter, giving us the opportunity to think. However, people tend to become abnormally busy during this time of year, running last minute errands for parties and buying gifts. December has been quite the busy month at Phelps as well, and we are looking forward to what the new year has in store. We have had an amazing start to this school year, with an incredible amount of support from the community and participation in our programs like we have never seen before. I know that over the holidays, I will be reflecting on all those moments we have shared with Phelps participants; the successes, the laughs and the ridiculous moments that arise from working with youth. There is a strong sense of pride for those who are choosing to participate in our programs and for those in the community who know how important it is to support our youth. You are all making a difference. A big thank you from the Phelps team, and best wishes!

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An Intergenerational Initiative

As part of an intergenerational project organized by the Townshippers Association, the Manoir Stanstead opened its doors to Phelps students on Tuesday, welcoming the grade 5 and 6 students from our Elementary Homework Program. We walked down the road from Sunnyside Elementary on our adventure, the students chatting about what types of questions they wanted to ask the residents of the Manoir and throwing the occasional snow ball. “What advice do you have for young people?”, “Where did you grow up?” and “What are your favourite activities at the Manoir?” were particularly intriguing to the students. Once there, we were greeted by the staff and residents, and quiet curiosity descended upon the group. Teams of students sat with different residents and were intent on asking their questions and listening to the insightful answers.  After asking all their questions, one group was able to help a resident finish a beautiful puzzle he was working on, while other groups had a chance to share some juice and cookies provided by the kind staff. The residents also took the opportunity to ask questions of their own; “What do you want to do when your older?” was a question that made the students stop and think about their futures. Intergenerational activities like our field trip to the Manoir Stanstead are an opportunity for different groups within the community to learn from one another and build a relationship, and I believe we did just that. A big thank you to the Manoir Stanstead for hosting our group of students.

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Student-led Fundraiser!

Thanks to the support of the community, Stanstead’s 3rd annual Winter Clothing Sale was a success! This student-led fundraiser, hosted by Phelps and in collaboration with Stanstead’s youth centre, Le Lounge, received many gently used winter clothing donations and some delicious baked goods. Enthusiastic student volunteers were key to the event’s success. Not only did they enjoy baking sweet treats to be sold, but also had a blast working together to give back to the programs that they enjoy weekly. The fundraiser reached its goal; Phelps will able to buy several ipad chargers for students who do their homework on ipads and Le Lounge will be investing in a flag-football kit for its active participants. Cookies, coats and gloves were sold, but above all many laughs were exchanged as the students spent the whole day with us at Phelps.

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Winter Clothing Sale

On Saturday, December 2nd from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Phelps will be hosting its annual Winter Clothing Sale in collaboration with Stanstead’s youth centre, Le Lounge. Every year, youth who participate in the Lounge and Phelps come together for this student-led fundraiser. This year, we have extended the range of items for sale to include not only coats, but all types of winter clothing: hats, scarves, mitts, snow pants and boots. The students will also be selling bracelets and Christmas cards that they’ve made, as well as delicious cookies and hot chocolate. We have received a number of quality brand-name coats that we will be selling at a low cost, as well as some older quirkier coats that may be excellent additions to a school’s drama department costume collection. With the money raised, the Lounge would like to purchase a flag-football kit and Phelps would like to invest in several ipad chargers for students who do their homework on their ipads. Come stop by 272 rue Dufferin in Stanstead this Saturday and you may find the perfect little gift for a niece or nephew, or find the coat or scarf you’ve been looking for. Thank you in advance for supporting this local fundraiser!

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Lampe - Phelps award

For the first time the Lampe Foundation, an affiliate of CFUW Sherbrooke & District, and Phelps Helps are teaming up to offer 3 unique awards to students who participate, or have participated, in Phelps’ programs. Each award focuses on rewarding leadership, perseverance, and community engagement. Two of these awards will be offered to level 5 students planning post-secondary education, in the amount of $100. The application for these two awards will come in March of 2018. The third award will be offered to a post-secondary student, in the amount of $200. The application for this third award is due by December 1st, 2017 and can be found on our website, on our Facebook page, or by contacting info@phelpshelps.ca.

The LAMPE foundation is community-based non-profit organization who is dedicated to supporting education. They encourage qualified students from the Eastern Townships by providing financial assistance through their many different scholarships. Since 1973, CFUW Sherbrooke & District members have put aside funds for educational awards and the name ‘Lampe Foundation’ was established in 2010.

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Mentoring

Phelps will be holding a mentoring activity this Friday for its high school and elementary students. Participants of our mentoring program have already had the opportunity to get to know one another during the Halloween food drive at the end of October when teams went door to door collecting canned goods. This Friday, our grade 5 and 6 students will be paired with high school students who have volunteered to be a mentor. As the date of the activity approaches, the high school students will excitedly ask ‘Who am I being paired up with?’ and the elementary students will start requesting to be paired up with specific individuals if they happen to already know a ‘Phelps big kid’. It’s not every week that elementary students get to have fun with older students, and it’s not every week that our older participants are given the chance to be leaders. For this mentoring activity, we’ll be baking in Phelps’ kitchen and it’s going to be a blast!

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Just One Person

At Phelps, we have learned many lessons. Perhaps one of our greatest lessons is that often all a student needs is one person to take a genuine interest in them; this could make the difference between a bright day and a dark one. With our students, we know that there is no cookie-cutter formula for reaching them, and we see that when we pair volunteer tutors with our elementary and high school students. We see that spark that appears when a volunteer sits beside a student, giving them their undivided attention. We see that sheepish grin as a new student appears at a door after five different people have encouraged them to come to Phelps. We see that sideways glance when we say that taking pride in your work is important and worth it. They are listening. These moments are hard to quantify or measure, but they are at the very heart of what Phelps, and its volunteers do everyday. Look for these moments, they often act as a tipping point for a student and are catalysts for moving forward.

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Halloween food drive

Instead of collecting candy on Halloween night, Phelps’ participants and local members of youth soccer and hockey programs took the opportunity to knock on people’s doors to ask for non-perishable food donations. The food was collected on behalf of the PACE C.A.B. Rediker, the volunteer centre in Stanstead. We had dozens of volunteers help with this initiative: teenagers hit the streets collecting the food donations from the homes and adult volunteers – as well as the local fire department – drove around to pick up the heavy bags of food. The community came together as a whole to restock the C.A.B.’s pantry, which supplies food for the emergency food bank program and the Christmas Basket Campaign. Thank you to everyone who participated and we hope that this might inspire other communities to do something similar next Halloween.

Phelps Aide Phelps Helps is an educational non-profit striving to reduce the elevated drop-out rate in the Stanstead area. Phelps was started in 2012 by two community members, and has grown from a single program to SEVEN unique programs, providing Stanstead area students with free tutoring, educational and career support and hands-on learning from grade 3 to the end of high school and further.

Phelps’ high school sessions are averaging 20 students per evening, and many benefit from one-on-one attention. We therefore are actively seeking new volunteers, specifically on Tuesday afternoons. If you have a couple of hours a month to spare and like helping others, please consider joining our dynamic group of volunteers to contribute to the success of Phelps’ programs! Please email us at info@phelpshelps.ca or call our offices at 819-704-0799.

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Be brave and take charge

High school can be tough, especially coming from a small rural town to a large regional high school. Everything seems big, foreign and unknown. For students in the Stanstead area, taking a bus to Galt or La Ruche can take over an hour one way. Imagine finishing a long day of school at the age of 13, having to ride the bus for an hour and then starting homework. For the first couple of years at Phelps, we would remark on the dedication of the small group that would faithfully come to Phelps every week, knowing full well that many were already exhausted, both mentally and physically, by the time they walked through our doors. For those who did not attend, it must have seemed like the easier choice to not always get their work done; some were able to skate by, whereas others did not. We are pleased to say, at Phelps, that this fall has been incredible. We have participation numbers like we have never seen before: students are getting off the bus in droves, stomping down the sidewalk and coming in to Phelps smiling, ready to work. We used to peer out the window hoping for just a few kids to get off the bus, now we do a double-take at the large groups coming towards Phelps. These students are being brave and taking charge of their own futures, making those crucial first choices and deciding, whether they realize it or not, that finishing high school is important.

Phelps Aide Phelps Helps is an educational non-profit striving to reduce the elevated drop-out rate in the Stanstead area. Phelps was started in 2012 by two community members, and has grown from a single program to SEVEN unique programs, providing Stanstead area students with free tutoring, educational and career support and hands-on learning from grade 3 to the end of high school and further.

Phelps’ high school sessions are averaging 20 students per evening, and many benefit from one-on-one attention. We therefore are actively seeking new volunteers, specifically on Tuesday afternoons. If you have a couple of hours a month to spare and like helping others, please consider joining our dynamic group of volunteers to contribute to the success of Phelps’ programs! Please email us at info@phelpshelps.ca or call our offices at 819-704-0799.

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Phelps' graduate support program

As you may have heard, Phelps Aide Phelps Helps has a new program; the Graduate Support Program. This program is designed for Stanstead area youth, individuals aged 16-35, to assist with employability and post-secondary education.

 

Whether you are still in high school, recently graduated, or looking to go back to school, our coordinator can help you along the way. One-on-one appointments can be made with the coordinator todevelop a pragmatic action plan geared towards personal and professional success, based on your interests and aspirations. Help with applications to post-secondary options and financial support are among many of the possibilities with this new program.

 

Moreover, our coordinator can support you in finding employment by identifying job openings. She is in contact with various employers and keeps up to date on the hiring companies in the Stanstead area. Assistance with job applications, CVs, cover letters, and preparing for job interviews are also offered by this program.

 

Over the past week, our coordinator has compiled a list of all scholarships and bursaries available to youth in the Stanstead area. This list is lengthy and has scholarships and bursaries available to students at all levels of education (even high school!). Contact us if you are currently a student and would like to take advantage of these opportunities.

 

For more information about Phelps, the Graduate Support Program, or to make a donation, please visit www.phelpshelps.ca. To participate in our programs or to become a volunteer, please email us at info@phelpshelps.ca or call our offices at 819-704-0799.

 

 

We will be hosting an Open House on September 28th at 5:00 p.m. at 272 rue Dufferin. Parents, students and members of the community are invited to meet with the staff and volunteers and learn more about all of Phelps’ programs.

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A GREAT START TO THE SCHOOL YEAR!

Phelps Aide Phelps Helps is an educational non-profit striving to reduce the elevated drop-out rate in the Stanstead area. Phelps was started in 2012 by two community members, and has grown from a single program to SEVEN unique programs, providing Stanstead area students with free tutoring, educational and career support and hands-on learning from grade 3 to the end of high school and further.

 

Phelps’ four weekly programs have started and they are as popular as ever. 15 students walked through the door for the first High School Tutoring Program session of the year, ranging in age from 12 to 17 and with homework just as varied. With a massive plater of watermelon providing some brain fuel after the long bus ride, students were paired with volunteer tutors and set right to work tackling Math, History, English and Science. It is great to see new and familiar faces at Phelps being proactive and persevering at school.

 

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Sessions starting this week!

Phelps Aide Phelps Helps is an educational non-profit striving to reduce the elevated drop-out rate in the Stanstead area. Phelps was started in 2012 by two community members, and has grown from a single program to SEVEN unique programs, providing Stanstead area students with free tutoring, educational and career support and hands-on learning from grade 3 to the end of high school and further. 

 

Phelps’ weekly after-school sessions begin September 12th this year and we are looking forward to seeing new and familiar faces alike. This year, Phelps will be open THREE evenings a week for high school students, providing a quiet and welcoming environment to study and get help in any subject. Our High School Tutoring Program will continue to be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:30-6:00 p.m. and our new program, Phelps en français, which provides tutoring in a French learning environment, will be on Wednesdays from 4:30-6:00 p.m. Both Galt and La Ruche students are welcome to attend any of the three evenings and can get off the bus directly at our location, 272 rue Dufferin in Stanstead. Phelps’ popular elementary programs at Sunnyside will be continuing as usual this year from 2:30-4:00 p.m. with the Elementary Homework Program for grades 5&6 on Tuesdays and the Elementary Educational Program on Thursdays for grades 3-6.

 

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