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.
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.
Every October, WITS programs begin as mentors and students meet each other to read together for the first time. Through our WITS Kindergarten, Mid-Day Mentoring, Workplace Mentoring, and WITS on the Weekend programs, we get to witness K-8th grade students from schools across Chicago build relationships with their mentor(s), sparking that curiosity for learning and developing lifelong literacy skills through positive reading experiences. Our program staff have the privilege of working directly with our committed volunteers and incredible students, so we asked them:
What are you most looking forward to regarding student programs in the 2017-2018 school year?
WITS’ Eric Coleman sat down with Rosalba Granados to give us the inside scoop about her experience being a Early Childhood Summer Program Lead Teacher and Rochelle Lee Teacher Awardee. Ms. Granados has been the WITS lead teacher for the summer program for the last 3 years and teaches the Dual-Language Kindergarten program at Talcott Elementary. The WITS Early Childhood Summer Program occurs 4 days a week during July and August and includes fairy tale read-alouds, practicing phonological awareness, and participating in robust reading, writing, sound, and play centers.
WITS on the Weekend students visited Navy Pier to ride the new Centennial Wheel. Check out pictures from the field trip below. Special thanks to Navy Pier for hosting us and to Clif Bar for keeping our students fueled.
“She is a real pick-me-up on hard days,” Etha Meeks says, speaking of her WITS Classroom Reading Tutor, Lynne. It’s a busy Wednesday afternoon at Manierre Elementary in Old Town, and we are able to steal a few minutes in the teachers’ lounge to catch up on their partnership.
Classroom Reading Tutoring (CRT) is WITS’ oldest program, stemming from the first partnerships forged by founders Joanne Alter and Marion Stone. Currently, there are 36 active CRT volunteers supporting teachers in 17 schools across the city. Some CRTs have been volunteering with their teacher since WITS was founded in 1991, while others are experiencing their first school year in the program.
In 1999, CBOE welcomed Drake Elementary School students to their downtown corporate offices for the very first time, creating the Workplace Mentoring program. Today, 20 schools partner with WITS through the Workplace Mentoring program; and Drake students continue to meet with their always supportive CBOE mentors. The students who participate each week are exceptionally talented and bright young minds who, in addition to reading, show their creativity on a weekly basis. To start the year, Drake students and CBOE mentors reflected on 2016, set their intentions for 2017, and chose a word to guide their year. See the photos below.
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.
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.
The data is coming in and here is the first look at WITS’ impact for the 2015-16 school year. Read more to see how WITS is making a difference through volunteer-powered literacy enrichment and stay tuned for the complete Evaluation Report.