Deloitte was recognized as the 2018 Blackboard Affair Corporate Honoree for their 14 years of partnership with WITS.
The story of WITS is built around a love of reading, learning, and community. In 1991 two women, Marion Stone, a retired Social Worker, and her friend Joanne Alter, retired Metropolitan Water Commissioner and neighbor, recognized the need to improve opportunities for children in Chicago.
Marion and Joanne combined their talents and met with the principal of Byrd Academy, where classrooms were often composed of 36 children and one teacher. They gained permission to tutor in one classroom and organize and update the school library. The school was willing to collaborate with them as long as they both promised they would be there consistently so that students were not disappointed. Their enthusiasm and dedication was soon applauded and recognized by staff.
There was no challenge too big and no task too small for Marion and Joanne. They scrubbed, dusted, and organized the library. They developed reading corners and created a space for students that was welcoming, full of fun and knowledge, and seemed magical. With posters up in the classrooms and books organized and beautifully displayed, Marion found a home in the library and Joanne found a space in the classroom. Having Marion and Joanne as dedicated guests willing to share their time, energy, and love of reading with the students at Byrd gave the teachers more time to concentrate on their curriculum.
Marion and Joanne’s dream became a wonderful reality as they gathered friends and associates to join them. They coordinated buses to transport volunteers to schools and WITS was born. Their story of dedication is truly a reminder that yes, one or two people can make a difference in the world. One or two people can start a movement.
It has been an honor and privilege to be a part of this wonderful organization and to have known these strong leaders as friends. We are honored to carry along with you the legacy of Marion and Joanne, and are especially aware of this as we remember Marion.
Award-winning journalist, Michele Weldon, took some time to talk with Brenda Langstraat, WITS Chicago CEO, about the importance of WITS and community among non-profit leadership. Check out the blog post For The Love Of Raising Money For Good: Literacy CEO Fuels Nonprofit Mission on The Movement Blog, a part of Take The Lead which is a non-profit organization committed to leadership parity.
By Ana Porta, Program Coordinator
November 14th is Education Support Professionals Day, which is observed each year during American Education Week. Within the Chicago Public Schools, Education Support Professionals’ roles include office workers, student services employees, food service workers, custodians, bus drivers, security guards, maintenance workers, paraprofessionals, and more. The WITS Program Team has tremendous gratitude for the support professionals’ expertise and accommodation at our partner schools. Without these individuals who invest their time and energy into their schools, the students would not receive the level of support and care that they do. WITS would like to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation for the Education Support Professionals who advocate for our programs, provide us with valuable information, and most importantly, support the students in the Chicago Public Schools.
WITS would like to give a shout-out to these individuals for their the hard work and dedication below:
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By Kellie Romany, Communications Manager
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.
By Kellie Romany, Communications Manager
Across the country, major retailers are selling out of notepads, pens, and pencils. It’s back to school season! Many students are starting the new school year feeling confident about their summer accomplishments and ready to power through the next ten months of studying, reading, and learning with classmates. The same can be said for WITS. After all the hard work and planning this summer, we welcome the new school year with enthusiasm. Our dedicated team is excited to continue our mission of empowering students as readers to build stronger communities in Chicago.
By Eric Coleman, Development & Communications Manager and Kevin Hujar, Program Specialist
The September Student & Mentor Spotlight features Brandon, a fifth grade student from Everett Elementary School, and his mentor in the WITS on Campus program at DePaul, Maryann.