WITS in the News – WGN Radio: The first identity that a student has is “I can read”

Brenda Langstraat, WITS CEO, on WGN Radio.

Brenda Langstraat, WITS CEO, talked with Scott Cochran on WGN Radio about WITS’ partnership with Chicago Public Schools to advance student literacy in 80 neighborhood schools through the integration of teacher training and mentorship programs—a unique model that is accelerating reading level growth in our students. The goal is that every student in WITS programs achieves that ‘spark’ of a love of learning! Thank you, Steve and WGN! Listen here.

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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From Theory to Practice: Rochelle Lee Awardees Share How Study Groups Impact Their Classrooms

By: Shawn Bush and Eric Coleman

Teachers at Lavizzo Elementary School meet as part of a Rochelle Lee Teacher Award Study Group.

One of WITS’ strategy for growing students as readers is supporting teachers through professional development and by providing classroom resources. The Rochelle Lee Teacher Award Study Group program aims to enhance the culture of literacy in entire schools through cross-grade-level teacher collaboration and increasing student access to books.

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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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