The Helping One Student To Succeed (HOSTS) mentoring program, administered through Partnership 2000, was devised to help students learn math and reading in grades kindergarten-5, according to Deanna Baker, Partnership 2000 program coordinator for Catoosa County schools.
“HOSTS is an academically-focused mentoring program that has the potential to significantly raise student achievement scores in the targeted academic area,” Baker said. “The goal is to improve student achievement in academic need areas, while also building self-esteem and providing a positive role model for students. HOSTS is a mentoring tool — it is not a separate curriculum or even a separate program.”
Baker said HOSTS provides the mentors with activities, games and puzzles that are geared toward each student’s academic need areas. HOSTS even provides a “prescription” for each student that details specific areas in which a child needs help, she said.
“The nice thing for the mentor is that everything is right there at your fingertips,” said Beth Kellerhals, superintendent of Catoosa County schools. “It’s all laid out for them exactly what the different activities are to do with the student. Since I, myself, am one of the mentors, I find that really nice to have and to feel like I’m really helping them improve their reading skills.”
Students are selected based on a need for assistance to reach grade level standards, Baker said. Participating students are tested prior to beginning the program and will be tested at the end of the year.
A win/win situation
Student mentors in the HOSTS program are afforded the opportunity to experience the positive value of giving one’s time to help others, Baker said.
“The beauty of this situation is that, while they are helping these little ones, they are also helping themselves,” Baker said. “Service learning opportunities have that power — we all grow through helping one another. This is truly a win/win situation!”
Marion Lomenick, LFO’s case manager and site leader for Catoosa Communities In Schools, said this has certainly been true since Oct. 15 when she began taking 22 LFO students next door to mentor students at Battlefield Elementary and Battlefield Primary schools.
Ringgold High School and Catoosa Crossroads Academy students are also participating in the HOSTS program this year at Cloud Springs Elementary, Ringgold Elementary and Ringgold Primary schools. Ringgold Elementary’s Michelle Hope, Ringgold Primary’s Tisha Brown, Battlefield Elementary’s Edwina Lipscomb and Cloud Springs Elementary’s Jill Cavan are HOSTS teachers who have helped implement the program at the grade school level.
“This program has been wonderful for my students,” Lomenick said. “It has helped with their self-esteem, they feel important and it’s made a big difference.”
Each Tuesday, Lomenick takes 15 freshmen from LFO’s Coordinated Vocational Academic Education class to Battlefield Elementary School to assist third-graders with their reading projects. The weekly sessions last about one hour, she said.
“My students work one-on-one with them,” she said. “In that program, they have a folder that they use and they see the same student every week.”
Following each class, the student mentor prepares comments about the session for the third-grade teacher to evaluate the student’s progress, Lomenick said.
Seven LFO sophomores are also mentoring students at Battlefield Primary School.
Lomenick said the program has been extremely successful because of the bonds that are established between the younger and older students. She noted that her students are very enthusiastic about their participation in the HOSTS program.
“They’re doing a beautiful job and the kids can’t wait for them to come,” she said. “And if one of them is absent, it just breaks the kid’s heart.”
Lomenick said one of her students was initially nervous about participating, but is now one of the most dedicated mentors involved in the program.
“He was ill and scared to death that he couldn’t do it,” she said.
That student is now one of the first in the building when the class visits the grade schools next door, she said.
“And one of the girls, a freshmen, who had asked for a mentor (agreed to participate as a mentor),” Lomenick said. “She loves it, and later said ‘I don’t think I need a mentor anymore’ and went to see her mentor from last year to tell her she was doing this. She’s very proud of herself.”
In addition to the 60 high school mentors, Partnership 2000 has over 200 community volunteers who also serve as mentors within the Catoosa school system.
”Our churches, civic groups, parent groups, and businesses have shown great support of the school system and our young people by devoting many hours to mentoring,” Baker said