LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Horace Mann Arts and Science Magnet Middle School is sending out a call for reading mentors. The Little Rock School District campus plans to begin its after school reading program in October.

“Mentors can place such a vital role in a child’s constellation of influence,” Mann Administrator of School Improvement April Jones said.

The volunteers will sign up through LRSD’s VIPS, or Volunteers in Public Schools, program. Last school year FOX 16 put a spotlight on VIPS volunteers who typically work with elementary students, but Jones said there was also a great need at the middle school level.

“Pre-K to fourth grade, kids are learning to read. After fourth grade, they’re reading to learn, so if you come to middle school still facing some of those challenges, then that’s going to greatly impair kids’ ability to learn,” Jones explained.

Students in the program will meet Tuesdays and Thursday. About 60 students will be enrolled, giving them a ratio of one teacher for every ten students.

“To really do the work of increasing reading fluency and reading comprehension, we really need to get that down to a 1 to 5 and ideally a 1 to 3 ratio,” Jones said.

Jones said they track the students’ grades, test scores and attendance and have seen improvements in the past.

“We are committed to closing that achievement gap and we have three short years to make that happen before they go off to high school,” Jones said.

The perfect reading mentor needs to be someone who reads. You do not have to have any teaching experience, but you do have to have a love for kids.

“We hope to instill a love of reading and make them lifelong lovers of learning,” Jones said.

If you’re interested in becoming a reading mentor, click here.