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Working in the Schools (WITS) sets students on a trajectory for success by building critical literacy skills and developing positive self-identity through teacher-led literacy professional development and volunteer-powered mentorship programs.
In 1991, Joanne Alter and Marion Stone befriended a teacher at Byrd Academy who expressed her students' need for 1:1 reading time with caring adults to help get them up to grade level reading. As students were transformed into empowered readers, Joanne and Marion were inspired to found Working in the Schools (WITS), with the vision of activating volunteers as literacy mentors for students throughout Chicago.
Simultaneously, just a few blocks north at Oscar Mayer Elementary, librarian Rochelle Lee was inspiring generations of students and parents through her love of reading. In honor of her impact, the Rochelle Lee Teacher Award (RLTA) was created to provide teachers with the training and resources needed to inspire a love of reading in students.
In 2015, these programs merged under the WITS umbrella to create a holistic approach to literacy support in classrooms and schools.