Water district staff give back to community, help promote literacy

For the past nine years, staff from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) have descended upon Peabody School to read, provide one-on-one tutoring and mentor second and third grade students...

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CHICAGO, IL, Oct. 4, 2012 -- For the past nine years, staff from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) have descended upon Peabody School, 1444 West Augusta, Chicago, to read, provide one-on-one tutoring and mentor second and third grade students for an hour every Wednesday. The 10th year is now underway, and about two dozen MWRD staff have once again volunteered to forego their lunch breaks to help out students in need.

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Michaelene Yates, MWRD principal office support specialist, reading with Ralph Hopkins at Peabody School in Chicago during the first day of the 2012-13 WITS program.
The Working in the School (WITS) Power Lunch Program promotes literacy and receives strong support from the MWRD Board of Commissioners.

"We feel that this is a very worthwhile endeavor," said Commissioner Cynthia M. Santos, Chairman of the Committee on Pension, Human Resources and Civil Service. "Our staff have a very positive experience, they build strong relationships with their students, and they enjoy watching the progression of improvement in the students' reading abilities."

The WITS bus picks up volunteers at the MWRD's main office complex in downtown Chicago on Wednesdays, takes them to the school, and returns them to the office by 1 p.m. Two District employees are assigned to one student; the staff member rotates every other week.

"The MWRD volunteers are an invaluable resource to the students of Peabody Elementary," said Morgan O'Neil, WITS organizer. "The one-on-one reading support they provide cannot be duplicated in the classroom where the ratio of students to teachers is sometimes 30 to one."

More information about the WITS program can be found at www.witschicago.org.

About Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago
Established in 1889, the MWRD is an award-winning, special purpose government agency responsible for wastewater treatment and stormwater management in Cook County, Illinois.

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