Seeing her test results, hearing her reading and watching her ease through assignments, you might never know that Bethanee Prevett once battled just to learn.
“I struggled a lot with math, reading and writing,” said the 11-year-old Hillview student.
That was until she was introduced to the Vernon Learning Disabilities Association, and her tutor Chris Panasiuk.
Four years later, and Prevett still loves meeting with Panasiuk once a week (twice in the summer) to sharpen her skills. And the work is paying off.
“My teacher says I’m doing really good,” beamed Prevett. “I think I’m doing pretty good because on my social studies test I got 20/25.”
Prevett is one of several students who are benefiting from the instruction and experience of tutors who enjoy spending time with and helping the children.
“It’s sort of a way to give back because I still really enjoy the kids,” said Panasiuk, a retired teacher from Armstrong with a background in special education.
Panasiuk is one of just two tutors at VLDA who are making a difference in the lives of kids as young as eight, all the way up to college students.
But with no funding, the association relies heavily on grants and donations to keep the program running. While the tutors are paid by the family, sometimes there are cases where families cannot afford to get their children the help they need.
VLDA recently celebrated Learning Disabilities Month (October) with a couple generous donations which ensured several youth don’t have to be turned away.
“This is the first year and a half that we’ve been able to offer supported tutoring,” said Panasiuk.
Educational liaison Naidene Shannon is grateful for such donors who are helping those who cannot afford it.
“There are needy families out there,” said Shannon.
Accessing VLDA also gives families an advocate in the school system, resources, diagnostic assessments, support and more.
“Some parents are just at their wit’s end, they don’t know what to do,” said Shannon.
But since 1973, VLDA has been giving students, and parents, the tools they need to succeed and assisting wherever they can.
“We are one of seven chapters in the province and the only one outside of the Lower Mainland other than Williams Lake,” said Shannon.
Local efforts started with pediatrician Art Sovereign.
“He and a group of very concerned parents are the ones that got this going,” said Shannon. “And over the years, it’s really vigilant parents that kept this going.”
Those with a background in education and working with students with learning disabilities who are interested in tutoring can contact the local office at 250-542-5033 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone who would like to become a member and/or make a donation can also contact the office, which is only open on Tuesdays between noon and 2 p.m.