Category Archives: Blog

Favorite Books for Every Age

by Ellen Werner, Program Director

Favorite Books for Every AgeTry these “read-alikes”

WITS staff spend a lot of time reading and talking about books with students. WITS coordinates programming with kindergarten-eighth graders, making staff well-versed in finding new favorite books for every age group. If you’re looking for gifts for young readers, try these “read-alikes.”

Purchase one of these titles for a WITS student

Want to make sure WITS students have access to these excellent books?  Send us one of these titles included in our Amazon wish list. If you use Amazon to send a gift to WITS, make sure to include a gift note with your name and email address so we can thank you. Happy reading!

Literacy is a Human Right

by Eleanor Dollear, Program Coordinator

LITERACY IS A HUMAN RIGHT

UNESCO asserts, “Literacy is a fundamental human right and the foundation for lifelong learning. It is fully essential to social and human development in its ability to transform lives. For individual, families, and societies alike, it is an instrument of empowerment to improve one’s health, ones’ income, and one’s relationship with the world.”

WITS understands this and creates opportunities for every student in Chicago to be literate and grow into a passionate reader.
Being able to read and write allows for meaningful participation in the world. At its base, being able to read means knowing what ingredients are in food, understanding what bus line goes to work, taking the correct prescription drug. Furthermore, reading provides insight into other cultures and lifestyles and helps students understand complex topics.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a plan of action from the United Nations to strengthen universal peace and eradicate poverty by the year 2030. Universal literacy is a part of this plan, “ensur[ing] that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.”

According to a report published by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, there are proven advantages to being proficient in reading by the third grade. Students who are reading at grade level in the third grade are more likely to graduate high school, less likely to be incarcerated, more likely to find high-paying jobs, and more likely to have a longer lifespan. It is because of these statistics that the WITS Mid-Day Mentoring program primarily serves third grade students.

Beyond taking students to new places, being able to read is vital. Join our movement and help create opportunities for every student in Chicago to be literate.

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Program Spotlight: Workplace Mentoring with Drake Elementary School and CBOE Global Markets

By: Laura Tilsner, Program Manager

Drake student poses for a picture with her mentor at the Workplace Mentoring program at CBOE.

The WITS community of volunteers inspires students as they develop as readers and learners. Leadership is regularly seen through the actions and examples of the mentors that show up for their students, and the students who make a small investment in their academic success every time they read at WITS. This empowerment is seen in the Workplace Mentoring program with CBOE Global Markets, Inc. (CBOE).

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WITS Talks: Understanding Humane Literature with Mickey Kudia

Interview By: Tra’Lisha Renteria, WITS Program Coordinator

Mickey Kudia leads a WITS Talk on understanding humane literature at BP.

Mickey Kudia, Chicago Program Manager at HEART (Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers), led a WITS Talks on understanding humane books. Mickey holds a Master of Education in Humane Education from Valparaiso University and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Communication and Education from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. As a humane educator, Mickey travels to schools throughout Chicago educating young people about animal protection, human rights, and environmental ethics. He has presented workshops on humane education and service learning at conferences across the United States. Below, Mickey explains the concept of humane literature and shares some best practices on how to have these impactful conversations with students.

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The Power of Libraries: Perspective From A CPS Librarian

Interview and Edited by Shawn Bush, Co-Editor of Blog/Newsletter

Gundry Rowe is a librarian at Walt Disney Magnet Elementary School. This past year, CPS librarians were given the opportunity to apply for the Rochelle Lee Teacher Award Program (RLTA) for the first time. Gundry is a 2017-2018  individual awardee and is one of the first librarians to participate in the RLTA program. Below, Gundry shares her path into library science, delivering a powerful message of the importance of school and public libraries, continued professional development, and student choice. 

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An Interview with WITS Board of Directors Educators: Dr. Olimpia Bahena and Principal Sydney Golliday

Principal Golliday with Drake students at CBOE
Principal Golliday with Drake students at CBOE for the last day of the Workplace Mentoring Program.

Listening to the voices of educators and our partners in schools is critically important for WITS’ delivery of high-quality programs that drive students to the love of reading. Dr. Olimpia Bahena, Principal of Talcott Fine Arts and Museum Academy, and Sydney Golliday, Principal of John B. Drake Elementary School, are long-time partners of WITS. They recently expanded their support of WITS by contributing their educational expertise and role as advocates for students as new members of WITS’ Board of Directors. Below, Dr. Bahena and Principal Golliday share their paths and philosophies as educators, as well as how they maximize WITS support for their students.
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2017 Alter & Stone Outstanding Volunteer: Jamie Garard, III

Jamie Garard, III with WITS student

WITS is proud to honor Jamie Garard, III with the Alter & Stone Outstanding Volunteer Award at this year’s Blackboard Affair. “Mr. Jamie,” as many students fondly referred to him, was a dedicated WITS literacy mentor at Peabody Elementary School and served in leadership roles on the WITS Board of Directors. Today, Jamie sits on WITS’ Emeritus Board. Below, Jamie shares about his involvement with WITS, favorite memories, and advice for WITS students.
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Partner Focus: GCM Grosvenor and Cook Books 2017

“Is my partner here?”

As the WITS staff and I enter Cook Elementary, I am greeted by a handful of students from my Workplace Mentoring Program (WPM). Before heading to class, they skip over for a hug and to ask, “Is my partner here?” One by one they ask about their mentor from GCM Grosvenor, WITS’ corporate host for the WPM with Cook Elementary. I shouldn’t be surprised they are so eager to see their partners. Over the course of the school year, the 33 Cook students who spent their Tuesday afternoons at GCM Grosvenor not only received homework and reading help from their mentors – but also created – together – a place for mutual success and happiness.

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