The tutors support learning success through after-school programs, free of charge to the students, many of whom would not be able to attend if their families had to pay for the after-school program.
University students are trained as literacy tutors at weekend sessions and are supervised by members of SFU’s Faculty of Education. They also liaise to discuss any issues or challenges they may encounter. Tutors also coordinate an annual camp for participants at the Burnaby campus, which recently drew more than 100 youths.
Program coordinators Angela Flumerfelt and Kanwal Neel carry out site visits through the year. “Tutors often talk about seeing that ‘light bulb’ moment, that spark that changes students’ perception about a learning challenge, or even about themselves,” says Flumerfelt, who has been with the program since its early days.
“Some students who don’t see themselves doing post-secondary schooling are introduced to some viable options,” adds Neel, who together with Flumerfelt, coordinates the program within SFU’s Faculty of Education. “Tutors help them with resumes, and suddenly things become possible.”
While many tutors are education students, the role is open to student from across all faculties. Prasad says he often uses his health and gerontology backgrounds to help students—many of whom are picked up from school by grandparents—learn about the importance of older family members, and introduce basic concepts of healthy living, through classroom activities.
He says the role is time well spent. “I felt that if I was going to be spending my time outside of studying doing something, it might as well be helping kids who need a little help navigating school, and life,” he says. “It’s always rewarding to see their self-esteem improve, and their optimism for the future grow. To feel that you are supported can make all the difference for some kids.”