Category Archives: Newsletter

Student and Mentor Spotlight: Exelon & Lozano Elementary

Lorilyn and Galilea are reading partners in the WITS Workplace Mentoring Program. Galilea is a sixth grader at Rodolfo Lozano Bilingual & International Center Elementary School in Wicker Park. Every Thursday afternoon she rides a school bus with 34 of her classmates to Exelon’s offices in the Chase Tower. Once there, she takes the elevator to the 48th floor, where she reads with Lorilyn, or Laura, her other reading mentor. Lorilyn and Galilea are both WITS veterans, having been in the program for several years. They sat down to share some of their thoughts on reading, WITS, and each other.

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Corporate Focus: Segall Bryant & Hamill and Madison Capital

WITS Workplace Mentoring student reads with his mentor.

WITS offers a portfolio of literacy mentorship programs that serve students from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade. Each WITS program partners a CPS student with a dedicated mentor who reads with them one-on-one on a weekly basis. Many volunteers go to schools to work with students, but in the Workplace Mentoring program it is reversed and students meet their mentors after school at their workplace. No matter where the program takes place, when WITS is happening there are four key components: committed volunteers, excited students, reading and lots of fun.

On Thursday afternoons, ten fourth grade students from McAuliffe Elementary School are bused to the offices of Segall Bryant & Hamill to read, complete homework, and engage in fun activities with their mentors.

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Corporate Focus: Deloitte

WITS incorporates positive reading experiences into the lives of Chicago public schools students.  At the heart of each WITS program are the committed volunteers, who contribute their time and energy to build relationships with these students, giving the literacy support they need to develop a passion for reading.

Through the Workplace Mentoring program, students meet after-school with caring volunteers from corporate offices to practice reading aloud and receive homework help. Maria Seimenis, lead-volunteer from Deloitte, reflected on her experience as a literacy mentor and shared insights on why Deloitte partners with WITS.

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WITS Program Launch 2016

WITS 2016, Brett Bulthuis

The first day of WITS volunteer programs are not unlike the first day of school – for both mentors and students. There’s palpable excitement and wide eyes, but also a few nervous glances and quiet “hellos.” I’ve had the privilege of visiting a lot of these “first days”  over the past four years and it always renews my sense of purpose in our organization. When we say we are in the midst of launching 60 programs, we also mean we are in the midst of launching thousands of new relationships between students and their mentors. It’s amazing – and a bit overwhelming – to stop and consider for a moment.

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2015-16 Program Reports: Stronger Together

WITS student reads with his mentor, WITS teacher instructs classroom.

Dear WITS Community,

One year ago, Boundless Readers and its renowned Rochelle Lee Teacher Award (RLTA) program was merged into WITS. The vision for the merge was to bring together teacher professional development and volunteer literacy mentorship to create a comprehensive program model that drives literacy advancement and a love of reading in students through whole school support. As separate organizations, WITS and RLTA programs supported students through advancing literacy skills and developing a positive mindset toward learning. Evaluation for the first year since the merge shows that the WITS and RLTA programs are stronger together. The integrated program model deepens our students’ attitudes toward reading and strengthens our communities of volunteers, teachers and principals.

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Volunteering as a group with WITS

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WITS makes giving back easy. By delivering and matching students with volunteers, WITS provides structure that focuses program time on building relationships and sharing stories. WITS reaches over 800 students in the Mid-Day Mentoring, Workplace Mentoring, and WITS on Campus programs each year. Bea Farmer and Randy Perillo, lead volunteers from BP, shared insights from their experience partnering with WITS to encourage other groups to consider joining the WITS team.

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Becoming a Reader Institute Recap by Julianne Demmel, RLTA Alumni

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I first heard about the Rochelle Lee Teacher Award (RLTA) from a colleague during my first year of teaching. She had a classroom library any veteran teacher would be envious of and she was well-versed on all things literacy. Needless to say, she was a wonderful mentor to have when I was planning for my literacy block. As time progressed, I learned that much of her knowledge surrounding literacy came from the professional development workshops she participated in through RLTA. I decided I must be a part of this program to better myself as an educator, and I applied and was accepted the following year.

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WITSummer Early Childhood Program: Volunteer Experience

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Maureen McInerney volunteered with the WITSummer Early Childhood program at Jordan Elementary in Rogers Park. She read with young scholars entering kindergarten three days a week in the library center. Below, Maureen shares about her experience with WITS and highlights of the program. Thank you Maureen for being a truly outstanding volunteer!

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