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Tutor kits program helping students learn, grow

The kits are distributed this month, with left over materials being put toward a scaled down program next school year
Kits provided by the HPCDSB and distributed by the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in Stratford and Goderich.

The Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board (HPCDSB) has partnered with the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul through the Tutoring Supports Program. 

The program was launched last year by the Province to support learning recovery and mental health supports, in light of the learning disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Heather Marcy, tutor supports program coordinator at the HPCDSB, told StratfordToday that the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul jumped at the chance for a partnership. 

“We brought it up at a meeting and they said they’d love to be our community support and had some ideas,” Marcy said. “They support vulnerable people, including vulnerable children, in our communities. We were looking for a community partner that has the same values.”

In partnership, the HPCDSB created tutoring kits for children impacted by the pandemic that were then distributed by the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul to children in Stratford and Goderich. 

Those kits contain resources dependent on what grade the students are enrolled in. All of them receive books, math games, and school supplies such as pencils. Older grades also receive vegetable seeds as a way to address food insecurity. 

The kits are a new program, though throughout the pandemic the school board has worked to provide tutoring services. Last spring, they hired a number of tutors, mostly university and college-aged students planning on studying education, some of whom continued into the summer. 

When school began in the fall, according to Marcy only a fraction continued. Many had to return to their schools in-person as classes returned to classrooms.

The feedback from the community on the tutoring kits has been positive. Marcy said parents are asking for more than they can offer with their current funding and staffing. Although not ideal, Marcy calls it a good sign that the program is being met well by the community. 

With the pandemic and restrictions easing, Marcy is unsure of the program’s future. It's a provincial program and the decision to keep it running comes from higher up. 

“As far as I know. It’s only going to go to the end of the school year.”

Even so, Marcy assures that the tutoring kits program will run in May, and left over materials will go towards a pared down program that will be offered in the fall.