Category Archives: Volunteer

My New World View

By Virginia W., WITS Volunteer from The Clare

Most Tuesday mornings this past summer I was transported into a new and stunningly different world…one where everything is very logical, simple and honest, and I learned many important life lessons such as: It’s comforting to have a hand to hold on to, a book to look at and a story to listen to. I learned that if you could spell your name, that is good; if you can be a “friend,” that is even better; and if you can remember to hold up your hand when you have to go potty, that is best of all.

It’s comforting to have a hand to hold on to, a book to look at and a story to listen to.This new world enveloped me like a warm blanket while library paste filled my nostrils and glitter clung to my clothes. Sticky little hands reached out to hold mine and expectant eyes twinkled with love and energy.

I learned to think and listen in a new way. My world was turned upside down and inside out and backwards for a few cherished hours while I was immersed in four-year-old life, outlook and logic as a WITS volunteer at Holden Elementary School.

A few examples:

Antonio asked his aunt if she’d promise to always be around for him to come visit, and she explained that she would try, but if a time came that she wasn’t there he could always remember her and their good times together. “NO! I want you to promise!” he said and I understood.

Then there was Francesca, who showed me she knew how to cross herself, and then look up—the latter being very important because (she whispered to me) “God, you know, is on the roof.”

I asked Yi-Ming if he spoke Chinese at home. “Yes” he said, and proudly added, “At school I speak Chicago.”

“How old are you?” Maggie queried, studying my face. “How old do you think,” I countered. She thought for a minute, then, “My mom is 30, so you’re prob’ly 30-100.”

In fact, I felt four-years old again, with sticky hands, full of great expectations, smelling library paste, covered with glitter—more alive than I have ever been in my life!

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 on the Weekend 2018 Recap

By Nick Colbert, Program Coordinator

WITS on the Weekend students from McCutcheon Elementary build polygons with their mentor.The WITS on the Weekend (WoW) program equips students to apply literacy skills through scientific inquiry and explorative learning. This past year, WITS hosted programs at Lozano Elementary, Walsh Elementary, and McCutcheon Elementary.  In addition to individualized reading time with book choice, each WoW session includes a check-in activity, group activities, and the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) project for the day. Since the program takes place on Saturdays, WoW affords more time for volunteers and students to expand their knowledge and work together on problem solving techniques.

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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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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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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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2016-17 School Year Recap and WITSummer Preview

The end of a program year is always a little bittersweet as mentors and students say goodbye. However, the summer is a great time for catching up on reading and we hope our students will do just that with the five new books they received from WITSummer Books campaign. Thank you to our mentors who put in the time and effort to support their students in literacy development, reading confidence, and reading for enjoyment. We are so thankful for the strong school partnerships that invite us into their world every week, and the students who welcome WITS volunteers into their lives for a school year.

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Read to Succeed: Chicago White Sox Impact at McClellan Elementary

By Julianne Bartosz, Senior Coordinator of Public Relations, Chicago White Sox

Learning takes place “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and
“Where the Wild Things Are” with friends like “The Cat in
the Hat,” “Junie B. Jones” and “Madeline.”

These children’s book titles bring different places and faces
to mind for readers both young and old. For 31 White Sox
front office staff members, these books are associated
with more than their own childhood experiences. They
are tools to create new memories with third grade
students at McClellan Elementary School through a
literacy program called Working in the Schools (WITS).

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