Over a Decade of Dedication: Interview with Mark Andersen

Kellie RomanyInside WITS, Mission & Outcomes, Volunteers

Mark Andersen Volutneering in Chicago

For the past decade, Mark Andersen has volunteered as a WITS Mid-Day Mentoring (MDM) literacy mentor. Once a week for an entire school year, Mark visits Manuel Perez, Jr. Elementary school in the Pilsen neighborhood to read one-on-one with the same student. Mark reads out loud, modelling fluent reading (pausing at commas and periods, pronouncing words correctly, etc.) and helping his student comprehend the story by asking questions and reacting to the text. These techniques support his student in becoming a better reader, as well as sparking a lifelong love for reading.

How long have you been a WITS volunteer?

I have been a volunteer with the amazing WITS organization since 2006.

Why did you start volunteering with WITS?

A friend at work had been a volunteer for a few years and she invited me to join. I could tell by her enthusiasm that this would be great way to get involved in the local community.

As a WITS mentor, what does growth mean to you?

Being able to help students grow in their reading ability and to help increase their interest in reading has been especially satisfying.

change in her attitude toward readingHow would you say you have seen WITS growth since you started volunteering?

The WITS program has grown significantly in its ability to recruit even more dedicated volunteers since I first joined.

How have you seen growth in your life from volunteering with WITS?

I am proud to work for a company that places a high value on community involvement, and I have grown in my appreciation for a healthy work-life balance that provides time to help children with such a critical part of their development.

Are there any ways your students have exemplified growth this past year?

At the start of the school year, Karen stated that she wasn’t yet a big fan of reading.  However, over the course of our time together, I witnessed a big change in her attitude toward reading and in her ability to read and comprehend the stories we read together.  The WITS program is absolutely improving the lives of these young children, and I look forward to remaining a weekly volunteer for many more years!

WITS literacy mentors make up the largest volunteer corps serving Chicago Public Schools.

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