By Eric Coleman, Development & Communications Manager
At the 2018 Blackboard Affair, WITS is honored to recognize Dorne Eastwood with the Alter & Stone Outstanding Volunteer Award. Dorne is a former educator and Rochelle Lee Teacher Award (RLTA) alum who served as both a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Director of Boundless Readers. As Executive Director, Dorne was a driving force behind the 2015 merger that brought together WITS and Boundless Readers. Today, Dorne serves as a member of the WITS Board of Directors and continues to support RLTA teachers as a Study Group Coach. Her visionary leadership helped WITS grow into an organization that supports students directly through literacy mentorship and provides thousands of hours of professional development to teachers through the Rochelle Lee Teacher Award.
Each October brings an opportunity to recognize the hard work of our principals during National Principals Month. Here at WITS we are grateful for the incredible principals that partner with us to build critical literacy skills and develop positive self-identity in students. In celebration of National Principals Month we asked our staff to #ThankAPrincipal for their dedication to the education of the next generation.
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.
Each year, WITS invests in approximately 150 Chicago Public Schools teachers through the Rochelle Lee Teacher Award program. Each Awardee receives access to literacy-focused professional development over the summer, and earns a grant to build their own classroom library. Over the school year, returning awardees participate in the Remaining Readers Book Club to maintain their passion for reading and build community with fellow CPS teachers. For the 2017-18 school year, nine Remaining Readers book clubs began by reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi before each selecting books to read and discuss in the months that followed. Below is a list of 10 books that were enjoyed by our 2017-18 Remaining Readers book clubs. Happy summer reading!
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.
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.
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.
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.