Sen. Carper praises West Seaford during 'Excellence Tour'

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper's "Excellence in Education Tour" brought him to West Seaford Elementary School this past week. Carper is showcasing effective programs in public schools and drawing attention to examples of innovative programs. West Seaford had several programs of which to be proud, Carper said. "I was excited to see Senator Carper at West Seaford, but it was more exciting to know that he wanted to use our success as an example for the state," said Dot Rider, who coordinates the school's HOSTS mentoring program. "So many parents, students and community volunteers give their time to help our children. It is nice to see them recognized for their efforts." Carper sat down with Rider, other teachers, counselors and the principal to hear about innovations at West Seaford. One of the programs highlighted was HOSTS, the school's mentoring program. HOSTS, which stands for Help One Student To Succeed, matches West Seaford's second and third grade students with adult mentors four times a week. The program's success, Rider noted, is a result of the low ratio of children to their tutors, and the close bond they share with them. "You have a lot to be proud of here at West Seaford," Carper told the staff. "Your work with mentoring and commitment to your students can serve as an example to the rest of the state." The staff at West Seaford urged Carper to expand Title 1 education funding to help them better educate Seaford's students. One of the unique ways the school uses Title 1 funding is to provide needy students extra help from Early Intervention reading specialists in the first grade, then continue that tutoring several times a week through the second and third grade.

Carper agreed, and explained that securing extra funding for education is one of his top priorities in the Senate. "When schools are given the flexibility to develop and expand innovative programs that concentrate personalized attention on needy students, the results are staggering," Rider said. "In just a year, these children see a one to three-year jump in reading levels. Their confidence and self-esteem are elevated, and their trust in adults is strengthened. We need help to continue this growth." Their mentors, a diverse group of high school students, business leaders, teachers, administrators and elected officials, are proud of their success. Carper shares their enthusiasm. An advocate of the value of mentoring, he has been mentoring a 15-year-old for the past five years. As governor, Carper committed himself to publicizing the need for mentors, and succeeded in encouraging 10,000 new mentors to volunteer in Delaware. Senator Carper's spotlight on West Seaford Elementary is not the first time the school has been recognized. Others have taken notice of this Delaware school as well. Since its inception six years ago, the HOSTS program has been nationally recognized with the HOSTS Exemplary Quality Assurance Award, signifying that at least 75 percent of the students improved one grade level academically. Recently, West Seaford was one of two Delaware schools to earn recognition as a National Distinguished Title I school for its academic success with all students. Those interested in becoming a HOSTS mentor should contact Michelle Cummings at 628-3789 or the individual schools in the Seaford School District.

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