Smithers Community Services Association. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Local program aims to keep students’ skills sharp during summer months

Summer Step-up pairs students one-on-one with a tutor either going into or interested in teaching.

Smithers Community Services Association (SCSA) wants to give students a chance to step up their summer learning game.

The non-profit is once again offering it’s summer tutoring program — Summer Step Up — which offers students a chance to get one-on-one tutoring from one of five tutors (who are either going into teaching or interested in the possibility of going into the profession) hired by SCSA for the program, which is run out of Coast Mountain College’s Smithers campus.

The program runs until August 23.

Program manager Lauren L’Orsa said that one of the benefits of the program is that the hour-long appointments, which only cost $10 an hour (she notes tutoring can routinely cost four to five times this amount) are catered to the individual’s needs.

L’Orsa said that she feels the program helps kids keep the information they learn throughout the school year fresh in those summer months noting that, as a teacher herself, she often sees a “summer slump” in-between when students leave the classroom in June and come back in September.

“In a student’s experience, having two months of not engaging as much in their reading, writing and math, I think that it can be harder to start up in September and feel successful, never mind students who might be feeling behind in their studies.

“Coming to step up in the summer can not only encourage those skills and beat the summer slump but it can build on those skills further.”

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She said that the program, which is offered from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, mimics the classroom experience as much as possible, borrowing teaching materials from Walnut Park Elementary School.

But she also acknowledged that they are aware it’s still summer for the kids attending.

“We also try to include lots of fun games and opportunities to get active with their learning because we do recognize that it’s their summer too and we want them to have some fun and so our tutors are really good at creating motivational games and interactive activities with [those] interests in mind.”

The program has been running for some time now, and L’Orsa said that one of the most rewarding feelings is seeing people come back for multiple summers.

“It’s pretty neat because we end up seeing students over their school careers, this year we’re even seeing an increase in high school students registered … because they’ve come as younger students so they’ve found success and interest in the program enough that they’ve kept going with it.

“It’s great to see that they’ve built a relationship with some of the tutors that have come back or just felt successful with their summer learning.”

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While the program has given away all of its free hours as part of a bursary program it offers for this year, L’Orsa said anyone interested in taking part in the bursary program should look into applying in early June next year.

Anyone interested in taking part in the program this year is encouraged to call the program coordinator at 250-877-9405 or to email

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