LEXINGTON, Neb. – After more than 20 years, the Morton Elementary School HOSTS reading program is still going strong amidst some program changes.

Not only will the HOSTS (Help One Student To Succeed) volunteer mentoring program – the only one of its kind in Lexington Public Schools, which pairs a student struggling to read at grade level with a community volunteer or high school mentor - usher in a new reading coordinator this year, the program will also operate under different, reduced hours.

The HOSTS program is shifting from an all day format, like last year, to late morning and early afternoon hours this year, said new HOSTS coordinator Kimberly Ide-Stice.

“Mary had an amazing program with HOSTS. I’m trying to align it even more with district curriculum,” Ide-Stice said about building off the tenure of the previous HOSTS coordinator Mary Smith.

As part of a greater alignment with class curriculum, Ide-Stice said she plans on having her HOSTS students work on the same skills and topics they learn about in their classes, while continuing to broaden their reading and writing vocabularies.

Another new aspect of the program this year is its inclusion of fourth graders, who will not have to have a certain level of reading ability to quality for a spot in the program, and will work in groups with other students and mentors at their ability levels, Ide-Stice said.

Ide-Stice, a former teacher at Pershing Elementary School, said she has already seen a strong passion amongst the community and students for the HOSTS program during the beginning of her tenure with the program.

“People have very positive feelings about it. When fourth graders found out there was an opportunity for them this year, they wanted to be in it,” she said about the supportive zest for the program. “HOSTS bring out strong reactions from kids.

“The one-on-one connection with adults makes huge changes on a kid,” Ide-Stice continued. “It shows that someone truly believes in them,” Ide-Stice said.

Volunteer opportunities are still available with HOSTS. For more information contact Kimberly Ide-Stice at Morton Elementary School at 308-324-3764.

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