By Brandon Gillet
The Ottawa Network for Education (ONFE), and The Ottawa Volunteers in Education (OVIE) are working together to facilitate the wide support of public education in the community.
The program matches people with varying forms of expertise with students ranging from junior kindergarten to grade 12. According to director of volunteer programs, Lee-Ann Scott, Algonquin has 97 current and graduate students working with OVIE including nine new students since September alone.
“A few Algonquin graduates have been hired by the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board because of their volunteer work with us,” said Scott.
The ONFE also holds an annual event called EduGala at Algonquin. Program manager Julie Crabtree organizes the event in H-building. It is designed to award excellence in public education nominating 68 finalists from 10 different schools. It is the only one of its kind and Crabtree describes the event as, “Oscar style.”
Algonquin used to be involved with the Ottawa Reads program as part of ONFE, which paired staff members with schools to volunteer in early literacy. Volunteers would be assigned a school and read to children to nurture early literacy. But unfortunately Algonquin has not participated since 2007.
“There were 24 readers one year,” said Crabtree.
Algonquin graduate Sudha Gupta volunteered with ONFE while completing her teach English as a second language course at the college. She would help teach Canadian culture and speech to new immigrants. According to Gupta it was a fulfilling experience which she would repeat if she were able.
“I would like to do it again but as I am no longer a student, I cannot,” Said Gupt. “If I was hired as a teacher, I could become involved.”
The application process which begins on their website at www.onfe-rope.ca, requires a police record check and character references. It’s quite an extensive process but is necessary to ensure the best possible matches and eliminate any issues between volunteers and students.
ONFE was established in 1985 and has banked about $3.7 million worth of time from volunteers. The ONFE have played a lead role in developing over 40 education programs. The way it is designed helps all involved from the youth receiving crucial learning skills to help them succeed while providing essential teaching skills to volunteers.