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Retiree spends his time doing math with middle school students

By BY CAROLINA ASTRAIN - CASTRAIN@VICAD.COM
Jan. 26, 2013 at midnight
Updated Jan. 25, 2013 at 7:26 p.m.

Chuck VanMetre helps 8th-grader Janaia Green, 14, with some math problems on a computer Tuesday at Patti Welder Middle School. VanMetre works about 10 hours a week mentoring students with the Victoria Business and Education Coalition mentorship program.

TO VOLUNTEER

Want to become a mentor? Call the Victoria Business and Education Coalition at 361-572-8232 for more information on how to apply.

Retirement. It's what we all long for after putting decades of hard work on the clock.

But for 63-year-old Chuck VanMetre, basking away at home was never an option.

The Colorado Springs native spends about 10 hours a week helping kids figure out math at Patti Welder Middle School as part of the Victoria Business and Education Coalition's volunteer mentor program.

"These kids lead challenging lives, so if I can help them succeed in any way, I'm going to do it," said VanMetre. "You gotta give back."

Although, VanMetre is not a native Texan, the volunteer said he spent some of his childhood growing up in Victoria and attending Patti Welder Middle School.

The Patti Welder Panther alum guided 14-year-old Janaia Green through transformations and geometric inversions on a computer screen Tuesday afternoon.

"He's been a great help," said Janaia as she started packing her backpack for the next period. "My grades have gotten better since working with him."

A smile spread across the volunteer's face.

"She's a good student," said VanMetre. "Does really well."

Green said her test scores in math have improved by at least 10 points since attending the mentoring and tutoring sessions at the school.

Kay Hayes, Helping One Student To Succeed mentoring program instructor, said almost all her students walk into her classroom struggling with basic fractions, division and decimal skills.

HOSTS is a nationwide program accepted by No Child Left Behind as an intervention system for students needing assistance with reading and math.

The HOSTS mentoring program draws in community volunteers to aid students with their schoolwork.

There are no minimum education requirements, and all applicants must clear a criminal background check before becoming a mentor.

Hayes said she's about nine mentors short for her roster of 40 students enrolled in the program this year.

"Our focus this year has been all about the basic parts of math and reading," Hayes said. "We hope to get our TAKS scores back up and prepare these kids for high school."

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