by Jennifer Dodd
One of the opportunities for students enrolled in Core 305 Service Learning is the chance to volunteer to be a mentor for elementary school children who need extra help with their studies.
However, this opportunity is not limited to only Core 305 students. Students thinking of a career in teaching, or who just like working with children, can also volunteer their time.
Daniel Ramirez, instructor of the Core 305 Service Learning class, hopes this experience with community service will not only provide elementary school children with the extra help they need, but will also enhance the mentor’s life, knowing that they have helped a child who may not have had anyone to help them otherwise.
Students enrolled in Core 305 volunteer at Levi Dickey Elementary School in Ontario. The school utilizes the HOSTS Program, which stands for Help One Student To Succeed. HOSTS is a national mentoring program based in Dallas, Texas that accelerates student performances in various subjects while involving the community as mentors and sponsors.
Julian Marquez, a mentor going on his second year for HOSTS, said, “I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to help out the kids and watch them improve. After I first got here and got to know what this was all about, I thought it was a really good thing. I used to be so naïve thinking every school had this program. That’s when I realized how special it was that Levi Dickey Elementary has HOSTS here.”
Marquez is eager to help get the word out about the program so other schools can experience the same benefit.
Donna Britain, the director of the program at Levi Dickey Elementary, is very excited about the amazing results she has seen since the program was first implemented in September 2000.
“Teachers and parents are seeing the pattern of success in their children,” Britain said. “Parents are saying, get my child in HOSTS!”
Currently, the State of California has 75 HOSTS sites in 52 cities and 6,000 mentors.
HOSTS studies have shown that students receiving the mentoring intervention outperformed the general population.
Kindergarten teacher Barbara Nichols has also found the program beneficial.
“My students would go and they gained so much self-confidence from the one-on-one interaction with the mentor. Last year, I taught the older grades and the program really helped the kids get up to grade level,” she said.
The children are also positive about the program. They have the chance to leave their classroom for a half an hour and enjoy the refreshments and occasional raffles for being on time.
Britain explained, “We try to make the HOSTS room a relaxed, friendly and fun environment, for the mentors and the children.”
Third grader Nicholas Noriega said, “The program really helped me out because I was in a really bad position when I was in second grade. I wasn’t going to pass, but then I came here and it helped a lot.”
Britain explained that “by having a stable mentor pool we are able to deliver a consistent service and a plan that works. The one-on-one interaction and the specifically designed lessons are just what the student needs.”
Nichols added, “If the student needs to go back and scoop up skills it’s not an embarrassment to them, because they can do this with their mentor in a one on one setting in a safe environment.”
HOSTS provides the necessary review a child may need. A mentor may also be able to inspire a child to learn, providing them with the knowledge that someone really cares and wants them to succeed. Sometimes that is all a person needs. In the book, “The Mentoring Revolution: Growing America One Child at a Time,” by Andrew H. Mecca, Ph.D., stresses the vital importance of someone getting involved in the lives of children. Mecca states, “If you think about your life and what you have been able to achieve, chances are at least part of your success came because someone held aspirations for you. Perhaps it was a parent, an aunt, an uncle an employer a coach or just a friend. They held up a mirror, and in that mirror you saw a reflection of a better you. Because of them, you worked to really become that better person.”
Personal attention from volunteer mentors can help a child become a better reader and a better student.
It increases a child’s self-esteem and can inspire them to one day become a mentor.
“The more mentors we get the more students we can serve,” Britain said.
Any person who wants to help a student succeed in school is qualified to be a HOSTS mentor.
Most volunteer’s work one to three hours a week. and schedules are arranged to accommodate volunteers and establish continuing relationships with students.
If you are interested in volunteering for the HOSTS Program at Levi Dickey Elementary please contact Donna Britain at (909) 947-6693.