Grade 10 student Taya Lee of Glenlyon Norfolk School has created a new non-profit online initiative to match student volunteer tutors with students from Grade 4 to 9 in Victoria and on Vancouver Island. The goal is to support students who are struggling to learn online. (Emily Pai Photo)

Vancouver Island teen launches free online tutoring website

School Helpers matches volunteer tutors with students

Cadboro Bay resident Taya Lee was part of the first wave of students in B.C. to experience the shift from in-school to online learning when COVID-19 pandemic reached B.C. in March.

Lee is in Grade 10 at Glenlyon Norfolk School – the first school on Vancouver Island to shut its doors March 10 in the face of what was then a fast emerging COVID-19 pandemic. The precautionary measure was to avoid spreading a potential case that eventually tested negative.

Lee found the shift to online classes a difficult transition, even with a set of teachers she credits as highly supportive.

So Lee created a new website that connects students between Grade 4 and Grade 9 with a volunteer student tutor.

“I felt it thrust into more of an independent learning experience, and it was harder to learn without the teachers,” Lee said.

“Talking to other students at other schools, I heard how difficult it was, even though I’ve been able to have all my classes online every day, scheduled just as they were before.”

READ ALSO: Glenlyon Norfolk School closes campuses in Victoria, Oak Bay due to potential COVID-19

The website is called School Helpers Victoria (schoolhelpersvictoria.com) and while the early users are mostly local it’s open to all students on Vancouver Island, and Lee is hoping to share the word.

It launched on March 31 and also features educational resources and a drop-in question forum.

“Not everyone is going back to school now and are still studying online,” Lee said. “And when students go back next year, there will be a transition and I know some students are getting behind in their curriculum so it might be harder next year.”

Volunteers and students in need of assistance are all invited. The goal is to assist students in reading, writing, math, science and more. It’s free service and does not require a long-term commitment.

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria schools to reopen with one-way hallways, rotating class schedules

“Students can sign up for one or more tutoring sessions, or use the drop-in sessions,” Lee said. “We have GNS students helping students but there are also some public school students tutoring. We match helpers with students based on the subject and grades they’re in.”

Ideally, Lee wants to make the non-profit online tutoring website accessible full time to families of students on Vancouver Island.

“Everyone has been pretty supportive about this idea and a lot of people are willing to contribute their hours of support,” Lee said. “They can also relate to the struggle of online learning.”

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reporter@oakbaynews.com

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