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.
WITS makes giving back easy. By delivering and matching students with volunteers, WITS provides structure that focuses program time on building relationships and sharing stories. WITS reaches over 800 students in the Mid-Day Mentoring, Workplace Mentoring, and WITS on Campus programs each year. Bea Farmer and Randy Perillo, lead volunteers from BP, shared insights from their experience partnering with WITS to encourage other groups to consider joining the WITS team.
I first heard about the Rochelle Lee Teacher Award (RLTA) from a colleague during my first year of teaching. She had a classroom library any veteran teacher would be envious of and she was well-versed on all things literacy. Needless to say, she was a wonderful mentor to have when I was planning for my literacy block. As time progressed, I learned that much of her knowledge surrounding literacy came from the professional development workshops she participated in through RLTA. I decided I must be a part of this program to better myself as an educator, and I applied and was accepted the following year.
WITS is proud to honor 14 individuals who laid the foundation for creating the organization we are today.
Growing up in Chicago, Terri Lind has been a supporter of Chicago Public Schools for many years. While attending a WITS Luncheon, shortly after the organization’s founding, Terri was inspired to get involved with WITS, an organization that felt like a “natural fit.” Through her friendship with Joanne Alter and Marion Stone, Terri was able to become a mentor for students during the beginning years of the WITS program.
Maureen McInerney volunteered with the WITSummer Early Childhood program at Jordan Elementary in Rogers Park. She read with young scholars entering kindergarten three days a week in the library center. Below, Maureen shares about her experience with WITS and highlights of the program. Thank you Maureen for being a truly outstanding volunteer!
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.
To advance student literacy, WITS empowers teachers through the Rochelle Lee Teacher Award Summer Institute. The Summer Institute is a series of professional development workshops designed to promote and develop teachers’ understanding, knowledge, and implementation of best practices in literacy instruction. This year, 141 Rochelle Lee Teacher Awardees were invited to WITS’ offices at the Literacenter to participate in over 170 hours of professional development offered through the Summer Institute. Teachers are also given access to the Rochelle Lee Library to familiarize themselves with texts to bring into their classrooms.
WITS Summer Early Childhood is back! On Tuesday, July 5th the WITS staff and volunteer team kicked off programs at six Chicago Public School sites – McClellan Elementary, Walsh Elementary, McCutcheon Elementary, Jordan Elementary, and DeDiego Elementary. Together, we are supporting Kindergarten readiness through themed read-alouds, art projects, dramatic play, and writing activities.
To share the joy of summer reading, the Illinois Lottery recently partnered with WITS to sponsor the WITSummerbooks program. Since learning can sometimes “take a back seat” to other activities while school is out of session, the Illinois Lottery hopes to encourage young people to incorporate reading into their summer fun through their support of the WITSummer Books program.