New learning centre aims to fill in the gaps

There’s a new school on the block–and its purpose is to provide a pathway to success for children who need a boost to their learning curve.
The Scholars Learning Centre, located at 601 Mowat Ave. (upstairs in the Northern Lights Credit Union building), is owned by Thunder Bay entrepreneur Sharan Shoi, who confirmed it will be the first of at least three he plans to open across Canada.
Shoi said although the Scholars Learning Centre is similar in concept to the American-based Sylvan Learning Centre chain, its focus is to maintain Canadian standards of education.
“Scholars is different because it is based on Ontario-Canadian curriculum,” he said, adding another basic difference is in its computerized pre-school program.
“Scholars has been in the developmental stage for a year to a year-and-a-half and I’m very confident about it,” he noted.
The Fort Frances location opened last week and already has begun accepting student enrolments by parents anxious to get their kids ahead of the game, said director Linda Burnet.
The centre provides diagnostic assessments of students in the areas of math and reading, and on-site tutoring (one-on-one to a maximum of three-on-one) by qualified local teachers.
“We find the gaps [in learning] and go back and fill them. We help them catch up the missing pieces,” Burnet said Monday.
“We follow logical, sequential steps leading to mastery of the material [and] our program curriculum meets or exceeds the standards set by the Ministry of Education,” she stressed.
Scholars Learning Centre also can provide high school students with descriptive writing skills and homework support.
Burnet, a Fort Frances resident for the past 18 months, is no stranger to the education system. Prior to moving here, she had spent the past 14 years as a teacher and principal at a school in Deer Lake, located about 100 air miles north of Red Lake.
She helped designed the “Scholar” program and believes that although the provincial education system is providing as best it can for students, many of them need outside help school teachers just don’t have the time for.
“Class sizes are [huge]. I can’t even imagine trying to teach 35 kids in one class,” she said. “Somebody is going to get lost in those kinds of numbers.
“It’s impossible for teachers to be [totally] effective,” she reasoned.
“And it’s sad to see a child at nine feeling depressed about learning. We need to find the key that turns their light on,” she stressed.
Burnet said she thinks parents are concerned that the sooner their child learns, the better.
“A child’s future can be sadly curtailed if they struggle in school and they’re not able to go on and pursue their vocation,” she added.
Burnet said that, on average, a student enrolled in “Scholars” who has been assessed as having a one-year deficit in reading or math skills would catch up within four or five months of tutoring there.
“Here we know we can make a difference. We are a place that helps kids and we are here for the long-term,” she smiled.
A grand opening of the centre is being planned although no date has been set.