Category Archives: Uncategorized

International Literacy Day – 2018

Since October 26, 1966 International Literacy Day has been celebrated on September 8th. The day was chosen by UNESCO as an opportunity for communities to reflect on their achievements and work towards new goals in expanding literacy.

This International Literacy Day, WITS asks you to join us in our mission of setting students on a trajectory for success by building critical literacy skills. Studies show literacy has a positive effect on long-term academic success and economic growth. By creating opportunities for every student in Chicago to be literate, we set our city on the path of success. By investing in WITS, you invest in Chicago’s future.

Rochelle Lee Teacher Award Summer Institute Presenter: Sean Eichenser

By Eric Coleman, Communications Manager

Sean Eichenser leads a workshop, for Rochelle Lee Teacher Awardees, on enhancing the writers workshop by using Google tools.

Sean Eichenser is an eighth Grade ELA teacher at Smyser Elementary School and a recipient of the Rochelle Lee Teacher Award (RLTA). Speaking to his experience as an awardee, Sean said, “WITS and RLTA fundamentally changed how I created and set-up my classroom library, as well as [how I] conducted my reading instruction. Building that community as [a member of] a RLTA Study Group in my school was huge in my first year of teaching.” Sean recently led a RLTA Summer Institute workshop on the Google office suite titled: G Suite in the Writer’s Workshop.

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Community Volunteers at WITS

By Nick Colbert, Program Coordinator

Throughout the school year and summer, over 1,500 volunteers serve as WITS literacy mentors, including over 100 community members who empower Chicago Public School students as readers. This is achieved through four programs: WITS on the Weekend, WITS Kindergarten, Early Childhood Summer Program, and Classroom Reading Tutors. With the new school year approaching, WITS mentors shared why they continue to volunteer.

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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 kindergartner who enjoys reading stories and spending time with his mentor Bob.
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