The virtuous circle: Syrian refugee student tutoring program

Person writing. Photo By: Cesar Quevedo.
Photo By: Cesar Quevedo.

Leaside shares a strong sense of community. And a community is a virtuous circle: when you help strengthen the community, a stronger community is there to help you.

That lesson-in-life is being learned by Nada Albaradan, a Syrian refugee now in Grade 10 at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute in Thorncliffe Park.

Nada was having trouble at school, because like many refugees she has difficulty with English.

“I am having great problems because I don’t have good basic grammar skills required for high school,” she said.

Many of her classmates are in the same boat. So she recruited 15 of her fellow students who are having the same difficulties and need assistance with their homework, and started looking for help in the community.

She found it through Sadia Zafar, coordinator of the English learning program at TNO-The Neighbourhood Organization.

“When Ms. Zafar realized there are at least 15 of us, a new program was added just for students,” Nada said.

The primary English Learning Program at TNO is designed to help adult refugees — including Nada’s father — master the intricacies of everyday English.

Nada’s efforts encouraged Ms. Zafar and her colleagues to recognize that their children also need help.

So they expanded the program to tutor school kids from elementary to high school living in the Thorncliffe and Flemingdon Park area.

Says Ms. Zafar, the Neighborhood Organization coordinator,“The tutoring program focuses strongly on helping children with their homework in different subjects, such as English, math and French.

“It also provides enrichment activities for the children within this neighbourhood with the goal of building skills to support them in their future.”

But to do it she needs help from the community: volunteers who can tutor the children.

“We need volunteer teachers with diverse experience, knowledge and skills in teaching children from ages 6 up to 18 years,” she says. “The tutoring could be one on one or in a group setting.”

And this is how the virtuous circle works: help the children, help the community, help ourselves.

The new tutoring program begins January 15 and will operate Mon. to Wed. from 5 to 7 p.m. at 1 Leaside Park Drive, Unit #7 during the school year. If you can help, contact Sadia Zafar, coordinator, language training and employment services, email: .

About Ken Mallett 40 Articles
Ken Mallett has spent his entire working career of 30 + years as a newspaper reporter and television news writer/producer. He worked for ten years as a foreign correspondent in London England for the Sydney (Australia) Morning herald and Toronto Star before moving into television news as a writer/producer for the CBC and later Director of News and Current Affairs for Global Television. He is a regular contributor to Leaside Life.