5 Ways Our Villages Can Help Youth Stay on Track to Graduate

A Village of Opportunity

“It takes a village to support students navigating the transition from High School.  It is important we take the opportunities as they come to develop skills for the students’ futures.”

Debbie Holmes is a Work Transitions Specialist with the Surrey School District’s Education Services School – Interagency Programs. In her role, she works with youth who require additional educational, social, behaviour, and emotional support. This role connects students to appropriate community supports and interventions. She was happy to see Douglas College approach the Surrey School District to introduce the Reboot Plus Program to the roster of supports available for students. This program is different from others she’s experienced. 

Keeping Students on Track to Graduate

The Reboot Plus Program offers instruction, physically and online, through Douglas College. Working to reengage students in education and skills development, the program supports students to explore their interests and abilities and matching careers. Attending the program “helps students narrow down their plans for the future and makes it less daunting,” Holmes explains. “The students I refer often have a lack of self-esteem, lack of purpose, face difficulties in breaking the cycle of poverty, and have no hope for their future. They tend to flounder around in the community going from one minimum wage job to the next and do not have a sense of belonging.”

Helping Students Realize Opportunities

The students in the Interagency Programs have done some career planning, and the Reboot Plus Program “enhances what we are doing in the schools. Together, we are able to give the students ideas of where they may go in their future. We were able to show them many opportunities they might not have thought possible before going to Douglas College. 14 of our students had amazing attendance in college, but not in their high school because they felt empowered with going to college and being treated as an adult.” 

Creating a Safe Environment for Students

“The level of support from the instructors at Douglas College and the understanding of struggling youth made a world of difference for our students.  There was no judgement when the students walked in the door.” The facilitators of Reboot Plus work hard to build connections with the students. A lot of students have a difficult time trusting adults; the classroom needs to be a safe community to share in. Once trust is built, students find value in learning about themselves. The program approaches things from a hope-centred perspective. A student-centred and compassionate approach to learning appears to reach most of these students. 

Connecting Students with Professional Mentors

Students in this program are linked to four to seven professionals working in careers of interest identified by the them. Students can ask questions through an informational interview to explore what their desired careers are really like. The value of informational interviews is insurmountable. The excitement from both the students and the professionals to take part in these is beautiful.  They both learn so much from each other through this process and it really is an eye opener on both sides. “I love the informational interviews,” Holmes says. “I have implemented them in my own practice.”

Watching Students Thrive

“My students left the program excited for their next steps. 5 of my students went on to volunteer to further their programming, 3 volunteered in a field of their choice and were hired as full-time employees, and 2 obtained employment on their own with enhanced skills they learned from class. They all have a better understanding of the opportunities available to them and are ready for their future and excited to plan for next steps.

Our students have just as much potential as anyone. They are gifted with resilience and strength. Their aspirations are as valuable as anyone’s. They have faced many challenges, with more challenges on the horizon, so we cannot give up on any of them. Our hope might be what drives them to move forward; they desire a career and fulfilling life just as much as anyone else. We are excited to be expanding this program to other communities to expand this village and support more youth as we move across Canada. 


Offered in partnership through Douglas College Training Group and PEERs Employment & Education Resources with the Burnaby Board of Trade, the Surrey Board of Trade in conjunction with their school districts, this innovative program aims to re-engage at-risk youth in education and career development by providing them training and exposure to both post-secondary education and to the world of work.  

The Reboot Plus project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre.

Le projet Reboot Plus est financé par le Centre des Compétences futures du gouvernement du Canada