Somebody's Gotta Do It: HOSTS Coordinator

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Peggy Bowser has spent much of her teaching career recruiting and working with volunteers to help students build their language arts skills.  She will be retiring after this school year, but her legacy will live on.

Bowser is the proud coordinator of HOSTS, which stands for Helping One Student To Succeed.  Her assistant is Rhonda Carroll.  The two of them, along with the 100-plus community volunteers make for a powerful combination.

"She is so interested in the students.  She really cares for them and they are her first priority and the mentors are also very important to her and we've all enjoyed working for Peggy," said Mary Jo Taylor, who has been a HOSTS mentor for more than 10 years. "It's just amazing how the students look around and make sure that their mentor is here every day and you just get this bond with the child."

The program is aimed at third graders.  "We all know that we have to read to be able to successful in everything we do and our reading skills carry over into other subject areas especially even math and social studies and science so if we can develop that foundation for reading at an early age for 3rd graders then we hope that will carry through all of their education," said Bowser.

The students spend 30 minutes a day one-on-one with their assigned mentor.  The result most often is stronger reading skills for the student and a sense of pride, accomplishment and gratitude for the mentor.  "It's so much fun to go to ball games and different outings and sometimes a student will run up and say, 'Oh Ms Taylor hello, how are you,' and I keep thinking now what was her name or what was his name.  You never forget the face but sometimes you do lose the name."

The HOSTS program at Brandon has been helping young students for 15 years.  Bowser has headed up the program for 11 of those years, now she says it is time to pass the torch. "Actually, I haven't really told the students that much because they're going to be moving into 4th grade, so it'll be a new group of kids coming up, though I have been breaking it to my mentors and that's kind of a bittersweet moment for me."

Sheila Skelton, a third grade teacher at Brandon has been assigned to take over the program in the fall.

Big shoes to fill for the leader of a program that has received state and national recognition for 'lovingly educating all children.'

One a personal note, KTRE has a long history with HOSTS.  I have been a HOSTS mentor and both Christel Phillips and Lane Luckie also serve as mentors.  It has been a rewarding experience for all of us.

Each volunteer decides how much time to spend and their schedules are arraigned so that volunteers can request a time convenient to them so they are assured of working at a specific time on a regular basis.

If you are interested in volunteering contact Peggy Bowser or Rhonda Carroll at (936) 633-7629, or write to them at W.H. Brandon Elementary, 1612 Sayers, Lufkin, Texas  75904.

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