Mother’s Story: Without the schooling I was stuck

Samantha Bilokraly was a stay at home mom for five years. She wanted to start a career, get out of the house and make her family a two-income household. She says, “It is hard to live off one income and daycare is so expensive. Without the schooling I was stuck.”

This year, Samantha began attending Together to Learn to upgrade her high school English and further her education. She says, “The program was perfect because of the free childminding. I did my grade 12 English. If I had had to go to college and pay for childcare, I would not have been able to go. This program really helped start my path towards a future career to provide for my family.”

Together to Learn is a family literacy program for parents with young children who want to upgrade their skills. It provides an instructor from Selkirk College at Kootenay Family Place in Castlegar every Thursday afternoon. Free childminding is offered on site and every session includes healthy snacks for the children and adults. Samantha says “I felt comforted as others were in similar situations. I didn’t feel like my life was different from every other student as they were there for the same reasons. I felt good and welcomed.”

“As part of the program we had guest speakers from Selkirk College come in and speak to the group. Having access to info on all the things students at the college receive made me feel like a college student; I felt connected to the college. Utilizing services such as the college library feel less intimidating because of the connections we have made.”

The Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy provides the family literacy component of the program. Parents get tips and ideas from the facilitators to support their children’s learning and development and insight into different struggles they might have with their children. Samantha says “we are so happy with all the people who were involved with the program. They could not have done a better job with our children’s care and I would like to thank them for helping me reach my goal.”

“I have tried to upgrade my high school grade 12 three times … this program helped me be successful and I completed it. Being successful in the course has given me confidence to believe that I can actually move forward onto other college or university courses.”

Samantha encourages other people who are in a similar situation or facing the same challenges to seek out programs like Together to Learn, as “it really does make a difference.” She adds, “I would just tell them to take the leap and seek out assistance to find the programs to help you further your education and build a better life for your family. It is well worth it for communities to invest in programs like this.”


Together to Learn is offered in partnership with the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy, Selkirk College and Kootenay Family Place. It is a result of the community literacy planning process that takes place in communities across BC.

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