Category Archives: Uncategorized

WITS in the News – WBBM: Newsmakers Making A Difference with Lisa Fielding

WITS students at Drake Elementary read with Program Coordinator, Nick Colbert, and WITS CEO, Brenda Langstraat.
WITS students at Drake Elementary read with Program Coordinator, Nick Colbert, and WITS CEO, Brenda Langstraat.

WBBM Newsradio shared a story about how WITS is making a difference in the community. The piece highlights WITS’partnership with Drake Elementary and the work of WITS Board Member, Principal Sydney Golliday.

Thank you to Lisa Fielding and WBBM Newsradio for featuring the great work of WITS students, the true difference makers in our city! Read the article and listen to an interview with Brenda Langstraat, WITS CEO, here.

Student & Mentor Spotlight: Zoria, Eric, and Stephanie

By Annie Kennedy, Community Manager

Zoria and her mentor Eric at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

This month’s Student & Mentor Spotlight highlights the trio of Zoria, a 6th grader from Fairfield Academy, and Eric Akiwumi and Stephanie Sahota, mentors in the Workplace Mentoring program at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Their pairing in 2016 was a brilliant move that would lead to many heartwarming and hilarious WITS sessions.
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WITSummer Books 2018

By Ellen Werner, Program Director

WITSummer Books 2018

Each May, WITS celebrates our students by giving them brand new books: these are our WITSummer Books. The WITS staff selects the books with WITS students’ interests, abilities, and backgrounds in mind. To ensure that students receive books that are close to their reading and interest level, WITS gives different book sets comprising of different formats and genres to pre-kindergarten-first graders, second-third graders, fourth-fifth graders, and sixth-eighth graders. Wondering what WITSummer books students will be receiving at the end of this school year? Read this article to find out! 

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The Community of WITS Volunteers’ Impact

By: Eric Coleman, Communications Manager

WITS Board Member and volunteer Patrick Hatton with his student Daveon, a third grader in the Mid-Day Mentoring program, at Drake Elementary School.

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month, and volunteers have always been at the heart of WITS’ efforts to develop life-long readers. In 1991, WITS founders, Joanne Alter and Marion Stone,  felt they had a responsibility to give back to their community. Seeking ways to volunteer their time, Alter and Stone began partnering with a teacher at Byrd Academy, where they quickly became fixtures in the classroom and a literacy support for students. They saw firsthand the positive effects created by the simple act of reading aloud with students. WITS was then founded  by recruiting caring mentors to donate their time in order to cultivate the love of reading in Chicago Public Schools. Over the past 27 years, volunteers have been integral to WITS’ ability to impact thousands of students.

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Student & Mentor Spotlight: Bob and Julian

By Kevin Hujar, Program Specialist

Bob and Julian read Elephant and Piggie in the Talcott Elementary School library.

The Student & Mentor Spotlight this month features two partners who enjoy reading stories together in the Talcott Elementary School library. Bob Chimis is a long-time WITS volunteer who has brought his enthusiasm to the WITS Kindergarten and Summer Early Childhood program for the last several years. Julian is an energetic kindergartener who enjoys reading stories and spending time with his mentor Bob.
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Principles of A Principal: Creating a Nurturing School Environment For the Whole Community

By Shawn Bush, WITS Program Coordinator and Co-Editor of WITS Newsletter/Blog

Tai Basurto is the principal of southwest Chicago public school John C. Dore Elementary, Rochelle Lee Teacher Awardee and Study Group Leader, and a doctoral student finishing her capstone for the Urban Leadership program at University of Illinois – Chicago (UIC). In this piece, Tai shares how her teaching experience and passion for social justice inform how she leads and why she believes neighborhood schools are much more than just institutions of learning.

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Outcomes Focused for Student Advancement

By: Tena Kunik, Chief Strategy Officer

A WITS Kindergarten Mentor reads aloud to her student in a school library.

Since 1991, Working in the Schools (WITS) has connected students with literacy mentors in public elementary schools across Chicago.  What began as a caring volunteer opportunity for the founders of WITS, Marion Stone and Joanne Alter, has evolved into the most influential literacy service provider to elementary aged students in Chicago.  Now in 2018, WITS plays an integral role in building positive self-identity and critical literacy skills for more than 3,000 students in WITS programs each school year.

“We always knew our programs created positive attitudes toward reading in our students. But in 2012, it became apparent that our programs were affecting reading level growth,” said Brenda Langstraat, Chief Executive Officer of WITS since 2012.  “It was then that we identified the two outcomes of WITS programs to be students’ reading level growth and attitudes towards reading.”

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Student & Mentor Spotlight: Giovanni and Mark

February is an entire month dedicated to love and hearts galore. At WITS, there’s no one we love more than our students and their mentors. In the Student/Mentor Spotlight, we feature the people who make our programs great, like Giovanni and Mark from our Mid-Day Mentoring program at Perez Elementary. Giovanni is in the 3rd grade, and Mark works at Northern Trust, a WITS corporate partner. Read on to learn more about the things they love, like books and pizza toppings.

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