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New Williams Lake tutoring program aims to make big impact

Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy wrapping up first pilot of tutoring at Nesika Elementary
Frances Bisaro, tutor, from left, Carla Bullinger, CCPL literacy outreach coordinator, Anita Davidson, tutor, and Jan Fichtner, program coordinator are wrapping up the pilot of Just-In-Time Tutoring. (Ruth Lloyd photo)

A new tutoring program launching in Williams Lake is expected to have a big impact for families, schools and employers in the community, according to those involved.

Just-In-Time Tutoring Service for Children and Youth is wrapping up its pilot program, which took place at Nesika Elementary School over the past six weeks, with plans to expand in the coming months.

The program is being run by Cariboo-Chilcotin Partners for Literacy and has been in the works for several years, following an in-depth feasibility study and the creation of a business plan.

The program matches experienced, qualified tutors – many of whom are retired teachers – with students in Grades 2 to 6 who need help building upon basic literacy skills. The hope is to expand into middle school and high school eventually as the program builds.

Tapping into the resource of retired teachers wanting to stay connected to supporting students was a “stroke of genius” said Jan Fichtner, program coordinator, crediting Carla Bullinger, literacy outreach coordinator, with the idea. The program is able to connect those with skills and small amounts of time with students who need support.

“It’s been lots of fun putting those pieces together,” said Fichtner, noting the key will be to address the need while also creating a sustainable program.

She said the development of the pilot was put together with a lot of thought and it shows in how it is coming together.

Bullinger said they have been getting really positive responses around the program, as so many people understand the importance of literacy skills, whether they have had their own struggles, or watched a family member or someone they know need additional support.

Both women also noted how supportive Nesika Elementary administration and staff have been and how this helped make the pilot successful. Tutor Anita Davidson said she has also learned a lot about herself through her work as a tutor for the program, as it requires a different focus and the student provides a lot of the direction in what support he or she needs.

Program coordinators are confident that the much-needed service will fill a gap in the community, between what hard-working teachers throughout the district can offer during school hours and the need for structured additional support that hasn’t existed in Williams Lake, until now.

The fee-for-service model is using sponsorship as well to ensure the program is accessible to all families, regardless of financial limitations. Subsidies are available and can be discussed with the program coordinator.

So far, Gibraltar Mines, Horton Ventures, Williams Lake and District Credit Union, Community Futures and Williams Lake Rotary Club have all provided support for the program.

Addressing this need is aimed at creating a cascade of benefits throughout the community including creating a well-educated pool of potential employees, improving employee retention and increasing quality of work.

Following the successful pilot program this winter, Just-In-Time Tutoring will return after spring break with a second session starting in April and with a goal of expanding throughout the Williams Lake community in September.

Cariboo-Chilcotin Partners for Literacy Society is a non-profit formed in 1997 committed to promoting literacy through awareness, advocacy and supporting learning opportunities.

For more information about Just-In-Time Tutoring or any of CCPL’s programs, email, call 250-644-5869 or visit

- with a file from Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy