Pens are once again a-scribbling at 102 Trunk Road.
The former Undercurrent office is now the site of the Bowen Island Learning Centre, a tutoring studio run by The Gym co-owner Alix MacDonald.
MacDonald’s path to opening the centre this week is more than a decade long.
MacDonald took an Orton-Gillingham course in 2003, shortly after graduating high school. Orton-Gillingham is a multisensory teaching approach that’s been around for a century. It’s particularly known for helping students with dyslexia.
Sixteen years, a degree in communications, jobs with both the Little House of Tutoring and the Fraser Academy (for youth with learning differences) and many, many students later, MacDonald is opening her own tutoring space.
“There’s a huge demand for this type of tutoring,” says MacDonald.
MacDonald has been doing language tutoring on-island for the past three years from her home but when she and her husband sold their place, she decided to expand her business.
Two more OG-trained tutors have joined MacDonald’s team as well as a math tutor who is not OG-trained.
Though MacDonald’s slate of students is full and she has a waiting list, at least one of her tutors has some space remaining.
She says that after more than a decade and a half of tutoring, she’s still passionate about her work.
“Actual non-readers, like kids who come in and are unable to read, after some OG tutoring, they are reading chapter books,” she said. “It’s amazing to see.
“Especially since a lot of those students are crushed from those early ages and they just need that one-on-one support to figure out how they learn best.”
“When they’re in a class with 30 kids, the teachers just don’t have the time to spend, to be able to figure out how they learn best,” she said. “But we’re able to do that.”
There are some signs that a child could use tutoring help.
“Any struggles with reading, writing spelling, comprehension, low confidence with school,” says MacDonald. “Our goal is to boost their confidence and have them love learning again.
“A common thing to look for in the early ages is letter reversals, not knowing what sound is associated with each letter in the alphabet, not knowing the order of the alphabet. Any sequencing with days of the week, months.”
Though the tutoring is not covered by any school funding, if students have a diagnosed learning disability, parents can write it off as a medical expense on their taxes says MacDonald.