For the past ten years, Marcie Burns, an unsung hero, has committed her time and passion for mentoring children at Kruse Elementary in Pasadena, Texas, in the H.O.S. T.S. program. The H.O.S. T.S. (Help One Student to Succeed) program is a one-on-one tutoring program for students reading below grade level. Yearly she commits the largest numbers of hours of the 2000 HOSTS volunteers in the city. She dedicates her time to Kruse Elementary where she shows up regularly every week from 7: 15 to 11: 45 Tuesdays to mentor twenty students in the reading/language arts program. She does not receive any type of stipend for her services. An estimated dollar value for the year of her commitment of 200 hours @ $22.00 is $4,400.00.
Kruse is a low socio-economic campus with 89% of its 700+ students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and the students’ life experiences are limited. Burns opens doors and provides affirmation and individual attention so many at-risk students need. Attendance of the students mentored by her is higher than the average, and the students’ overall school success extends well beyond the HOSTS classroom.
Kruse Elementary is now a Texas Recognized campus, and Burns is one of the reasons Kruse students have a sense of competence as learners in order to perform well on state accountability tests. HOSTS classrooms do project a “feel-good” atmosphere, but the students’ enhanced self-esteem is built on a solid foundation of achievement that has been catapulted by Burns.
Burns holds high aspirations for each young person she mentors. She is somebody who cares about her students and once they get their self-esteem up, the students are convinced they can do anything to which they put their minds. She is transforming the schooling experience of children, increasing school attendance, making readers of non-readers, achievers of underachievers, and confident, engaged learners.
Not only does Burns have this passion for helping young people, she volunteers her time in other areas. For the past four years she has been involved in the Prison Ministry Bible Correspondence program. Monthly she corresponds with 75-100 inmates and devotes 20 hours weekly to this activity. They study and answer questions and Burns corrects, grades, and returns their papers with letters of encouragement. Several of the prisoners have commented that the good thing that has come from being in prison is that they have learned about God and being a responsible individual. Many of them have now become worthwhile and productive citizens upon release from prison due to Burns’ commitment.
Besides her mentoring and prison system work, she visits nursing homes and hospitals and heads up committees to feed ill and bereaved families. For nine years she has been assisting with a monthly birthday party for the elderly at the Pasadena Care Center.