Program opens new chapter for kids

Carmella McCrea, nine, reads a book with some help from One to One volunteer Pat Nolan at BX Elementary. - Jennifer Smith/Morning Star
Carmella McCrea, nine, reads a book with some help from One to One volunteer Pat Nolan at BX Elementary.
— image credit: Jennifer Smith/Morning Star

Kids struggling to read have been gaining the skills and confidence to succeed in Vernon for 20 years now.

Thanks to the One to One program, children like nine-year-old Carmella McCrea have gone from challenged readers to fluent ones.

“I’m reading a little better,” said the Grade 4 BX Elementary student, who started in the program in Grade 3.

But having seen her excel over the past year, volunteer Pat Nolan says McCrea is doing: “a lot better actually.”

Nolan has been coming to the school for 11 years now, where she has helped dozens of kids just by sitting down and reading with them and playing games.

“I just love it. I enjoy the kids. I’m a big reader at home and always have been. I really think it’s important,” said Nolan, 70, whose 19-year-old grandson went to BX.

The biggest smile she gets is seeing the difference her efforts make in the kids.

“Sometimes the kids don’t see it, but there’s a big, big change in their reading.”

And the kids enjoy the special one-on-one time they get and the skills they are taught.

“We use strategies, like if I’m stuck on Halloween, then we cut the word up,” said McCrea, who finds since joining the program chapter books are easier to read.

She’s also been able to share her skills at home.

“I read to my brother sometimes. He’s in Grade 1 now and learning to read.”

The One to One program initially started with just a few schools and has grown to include the entire Vernon School District, except Lumby and Lavington this year. There’s even a French program at Beairsto.

Several volunteer opportunities are open, including for a French tutor, for anyone wanting to help make a difference in the lives of children. All that is required is spending some time one morning or afternoon per week from Jan. 30 to May 4 helping kids read. All volunteers receive a free three-hour new tutor training session, which begins Jan. 18.

Anyone interested can contact Bonnie Hutton at 250-549-2216 or


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