Emily Stoner has been involved with WITS for 8 years, and continues to be an enthusiastic supporter of the organization. We asked Emily a few questions about her involvement.
What led you first to connect with WITS?
I found Boundless Readers back in 2011 at a young professionals non-profit fair. I was looking for an organization to get involved with and the mission of Boundless Readers immediately resonated with me. I loved reading as a child and can see how that laid a foundation for learning throughout my life, and I was excited about the idea of helping other children fall in love with reading, too. In addition to the mission, I was also drawn to Boundless Readers methods. The organization seemed to have a very deliberate, focused, and well-thought-out method to develop young readers by providing resources to teachers. And those resources were both tangible – funds to develop classroom libraries – and intangible – professional development. Several years later, Boundless Readers merged with WITS to create an even more robust structure for supporting young readers through the WITS mentoring programs.
What has inspired you the most during your involvement?
I love getting to meet teachers at the annual Blackboard Affair and at other events. I am in awe of their dedication to their students and feel honored to play a small role, through my support of WITS, in helping them achieve their goals in the classroom. While they still need so much more in the classroom, it is clear that the resources WITS provides, from one-on-one reading time for students to classroom libraries, are making an impact.
To you, why is an organization like WITS important?
There are so many ways in which our education system is failing students, and it is easy be overwhelmed by all the things that could, and should, be improved. But WITS has honed in on one aspect of a child’s education that has wide-reaching impact on their future learning: fostering a love of reading. And moreover, WITS attacks that issue from many angles: from providing students with one-on-one reading time with a mentor to getting books in the hands of students at school and at home.
Why do you continue to contribute to WITS?
I contribute to WITS, because, as a former young reader myself, I believe strongly in the power of books. And I know that WITS is passionate about that mission. But I also support WITS for more practical, less emotional, reasons: WITS it is a well-run organization staffed by very competent and dedicated staff who rely on research and evaluation to achieve the mission that I care so much about.
Over the past 3 years, 68% of WITS students surpassed the national average for annual reading level growth