Workplace Mentoring at the Thomas Hughes Children’s Library

By Elizabeth Kristoff, Program Manager

Student and Mentor reading at the Thomas Hughes Children's Library

Libraries are inspiring places. I’ve always felt this way, but never felt so compelled as when I observe how engaged our students are while at the Thomas Hughes Children’s Library. Located on the 2nd floor of the Harold Washington Library, this newly-renovated, extraordinary space is where WITS has held Workplace Mentoring sessions this fall, in our partnership with Exelon Corporation and Lozano Bilingual & International Center. It is where you will see students and volunteers marveling over x-rays of toys at a special exploration table, challenging their engineering skills while building a Rube Goldberg machine, or simply cozying into oversized beanbag chairs to read about prehistoric mammals.

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The Power of Libraries: Perspective From A CPS Librarian

Interview and Edited by Shawn Bush, Co-Editor of Blog/Newsletter

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. 

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Inside WITS: Student Program Start-Up

Student walks to meet his mentor on the first day of Workplace Mentoring
Student walks to meet his mentor on the first day of Workplace Mentoring

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? 

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An Interview with WITS Board of Directors Educators: Dr. Olimpia Bahena and Principal Sydney Golliday

Principal Golliday with Drake students at CBOE
Principal Golliday with Drake students at CBOE for the last day of the Workplace Mentoring Program.

Listening to the voices of educators and our partners in schools is critically important for WITS’ delivery of high-quality programs that drive students to the love of reading. Dr. Olimpia Bahena, Principal of Talcott Fine Arts and Museum Academy, and Sydney Golliday, Principal of John B. Drake Elementary School, are long-time partners of WITS. They recently expanded their support of WITS by contributing their educational expertise and role as advocates for students as new members of WITS’ Board of Directors. Below, Dr. Bahena and Principal Golliday share their paths and philosophies as educators, as well as how they maximize WITS support for their students.
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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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Teaching with WITS: Insight from Lead Summer Teacher and Rochelle Lee Awardee Rosalba Granados

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.

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Partner Focus: GCM Grosvenor and Cook Books 2017

“Is my partner here?”

As the WITS staff and I enter Cook Elementary, I am greeted by a handful of students from my Workplace Mentoring Program (WPM). Before heading to class, they skip over for a hug and to ask, “Is my partner here?” One by one they ask about their mentor from GCM Grosvenor, WITS’ corporate host for the WPM with Cook Elementary. I shouldn’t be surprised they are so eager to see their partners. Over the course of the school year, the 33 Cook students who spent their Tuesday afternoons at GCM Grosvenor not only received homework and reading help from their mentors – but also created – together – a place for mutual success and happiness.

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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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Partner Spotlight: The Illinois Lottery & WITSummerBooks

WITS partners with the Illinois Lottery to provide literacy enrichment and summer reading opportunities to thousands of students through the WITSummerBooks program. The Illinois Lottery strives to maximize revenue for Illinois schools in a responsible manner in addition to supporting community enriching programs such as the WITSummerBooks program. Sponsoring the WITSummerBooks program is a direct investment in student literacy and education for the Illinois Lottery, which is an important part of the Illinois Lottery’s mission.  WITS provides books and reading assistance to youngsters in the greatest need of additional support. For them, summer books are lifelines to adventures, travel and learning opportunities they may not otherwise have.

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