Skip to content
supportRLTA's profile image - click for profile

Michelle Chrusciel's Fundraiser:

Rochelle Lee Teacher Award

Michelle's Photo
Michelle's Photo
Michelle's Photo
Michelle's Photo
Michelle Chrusciel


164 teachers are part of the 2015 RLTA class. By supporting their classroom libraries at any amount you are helping them foster the love of learning and reading in their classrooms.  In the comments of your donation you can choose to support a teacher directly or make a gift with no designation and we will direct it to one of our teachers – scroll through to learn a bit more about our teachers.  Each teacher is awarded $300 to build their libraries, please consider supporting these teachers.

Angelica Aguilar Henry D. Lloyd School Pre-K, 13 years teaching. The most beneficial component of the Rochelle Lee Teacher Awards program has been support from my study group members because we are all learning something together and can share common and new experiences as well as the BR staff.

Linda Aguirre Saucedo Scholastic Academy 3rd grade, 14 years teaching. I made it my mission that this school year I would really focus on building my students vocabulary and provide them with strategies that they would be able to use to assist them in deciphering new words they encountered as they read.

Sarah Alber KIPP Ascend Primary School 1st-3rd grade, 6 years teaching. I have learned a lot about supporting my developing readers as they work to access and comprehend grade level texts. I have found the RLTA program has energized and empowered me as a teacher of literacy.

Sarah Allen KIPP Ascend Primary School 3rd- 4th grade, 2 years teaching. I enjoy reading books that I can really get into and relate to on a personal level. I want to be able to instill my love of reading into my student's lives.

Erik Almer Edison Park Elementary School 4th grade, 2 years teaching. Since non-fiction text is such a big part of the Common Core, I work especially hard to incorporate literacy skills into social studies, and have focused quite a bit on close reading of non-fiction subject area material.

Steven Ansilio Rosario Castellanos School 6th grade,  2 years teaching. I talk about strategies I use when I am reading to better understand. I tell the kids that I am a reader to learn, and I use the same strategies they use. I like to talk about how I am engaged in my book.

Brenda Armstrong Oglesby School 3rd grade, 22 years teaching. I would like to give my students tools to unlock comprehension so they can see what successful reading feels like and looks like as they participate in independent reading and small groups.

Derek Ault Legacy Charter School 7th and 8th grade 15 years teaching. In this past year of teaching I have learned that students love to hear a book read aloud, and they need to hear books read aloud to them.

Deborah Banks Coles Model for Excellence School 1st-3rd grade, 6 years teaching. I have come to understand that it is not up to my students to understand how I teach. It is my responsibility to recognize how each student learns.

Heather Banu Hamilton School 2nd-4th, 9 years teaching. Fostering a love of reading begins with modelling a love of reading. This comes from not only talking with students about my own personal love for books, but genuinely sharing with them my excitement for reading.

Emily Bartlett Brentano Academy 3th-5th 4 years teaching. The Rochelle Lee Teacher Awards program has made me a better teacher. This program has encouraged me to look at and analyze my students’ work to see if I am meeting my goal.

Camille Baum Albany Park Academy 7th and 8th grade reading 18 I create a reading environment that my students love. I have lamps and comfortable seating for independent reading time. I buy a book for each of their birthday, and I send home books so that they can read to a younger sibling or a parent.

Audrey Benes Walsh School Kindergarten, 18 years teaching.  The WITS teachers who have volunteered in my classroom have been wonderful. The extra practice of reading to an adult and being read to has helped my children enjoy reading and develop as readers this year.

Allison Bizon Montessori School of Englewood Pre-K and Kindergarten, 2 years teaching. I greatly enjoyed practicing in the Boundless Readers program last year for many reasons, but was particularly grateful for its motivation for me to position myself as an adult reader more regularly.

Amy Bloom Oriole Park Elementary 5th grade, 1 year teaching. This year, we have had multiple novel studies that have encouraged my students to think critically and look at the world in a whole new light.

Amber Bogard Burley Elementary 5 3 Participating in the Rochelle Lee Teacher Awards program, gave me the opportunity to meet other teachers that shared the same beliefs as me in regards to literacy

Erin Bosman Norwood Park Elementary 2nd grade, 7 years teaching. The RLTA program showed me that with a shared vision, we can all learn and grow from each other, and that everyone has something valuable to contribute.

Elisha Brandes Hamilton School 6th-8th, 14 years teaching. I talk about reading all the time. How much I love to read, the books I love to read and why I enjoy reading so much.

Blair Brodie Brentano Academy Kindergarten, 3 years teaching. Through the PD workshops I was able to learn about a system that now fits perfectly in my classroom. I think the PD workshops are some of the most beneficial components of the RLTA program.

Sarah Bucher Perez School 5th grade, 4 years teaching. The last important thing that I have learned about my students this year is the importance of them hearing me read aloud books by authors and genres that they might not previously have been exposed to.

Niamh Burke Walsh School 6th and 7th grade, 2 years teaching. I believe we forget, as teachers, that reading should be a skill that leads to joy.

Amy Butler Galileo Scholastic Academy 1st grade, 12 years teaching. My classroom is comprised of multi-cultural and diverse learners from around the world, and I have recently witnessed a very powerful positive impact of selecting and incorporating culturally-relevant materials that represent my students and their backgrounds.

Elizabeth Carrillo Corkery School 2nd grade, 10 years teaching. In the classroom I believe I promote joy and foster a love of reading with my students in many ways throughout the day. I have created a learning environment filled with opportunities to connect with literacy.

Addison Cochrane KIPP Ascend Primary School 2nd grade, 3 years teaching.  One major way that I promote the joy of reading in my classroom is by allowing students to really take ownership of their reading during reading workshop.

Olga Contreras Saucedo Scholastic Academy Kindergarten, 12 years teaching.  Participating in the Rochelle Lee Teacher Award program changed me because my vast library has been the crucial component in my classroom. Students become independent readers at an early stage because I have an attractive appropriate library and system.

Lucibella Cortez Rachel Carson Elementary 5th grade, 3 years teaching.  As a participant of the Rochelle Lee program I felt more prepared to teach fifth grade for the first time. I had so many PD hours tailoring to the fifth grade.

Melissa Cowell KIPP Ascend Primary School 3rd grade, 3 years teaching. Throughout the year, I have watched some of the students make progress and improve their confidence with reading significantly. When they are able to access a text, the children are all excited to hear stories and share their insights.

Christine Cummings Corkery School 4th grade, 8 years teaching. Next year, we want to study vocabulary. We want to tackle this topic as 85% of our population is made of English Learners. Vocabulary is key to language development, and language underpins literacy, so it is essential that we learn ways to better instruct our students.

Audrey Cutler Rachel Carson Elementary 8th grade, 3 years teaching.  I have had the unique experience of working with my students for the past 3 years. In that time, I have watched them grow and have worked to grow myself in how to best serve them.

Alana Davidov Hamilton School 4th -6th grade, 2 years teaching.  I love reading stories that explain a perspective on a real event from history. I share this with my students with a sign on my door that always shows the books that I am reading now.

Alejandra De La Pena Henry D. Lloyd School Pre-K, 13 years teaching. I want my students to find peace, joy and laughter through reading books that they will want to read over and over again.

Sara DeLeo Sharon McAuliffe School 1st grade,  2 years teaching. As an educator for beginning readers, it is very important to me that I constantly surround my students with literature. I provide my students with numerous opportunities to read or listen to a book.

Yolanda DelReal Saucedo Scholastic Academy 3rd grade, 12 years teaching. I think that by giving my students choice and positive reading experiences has changed them into more active readers. I hope that I instill in them the ability, the strategies and skills, and foremost the love for reading.

Debra Devlin Sidney Sawyer Elementary 5 5 I am always reminding my students that they can always come to me to discuss anything, I will never judge them. I want my students to feel important and know how they are a valuable part of my classroom.

Joseph Dickinson New Field Primary School Kindergarten, 3 years teaching. The most important thing that I have learned this year is how to create a structure within the school day/school year that both allows my kindergarten students to learn social emotional strategies through daily read alouds, while simultaneously learning the nitty gritty of how to read (decode) as well as how to think about reading (comprehend).

Dana Di Iacova Corkery School 2nd grade,  5 years teaching. One of the most important things I have learned about my students so far, this year, is how much they need to be able to talk about books academically as well as for pleasure.

Barbara Dillon Albany Park Academy 8th grade 16 years teaching. I perform book chats, oral interpretations - and my students do the same.We write one another reading letters about the books we love, and we talk to one another about the books we love.

Melissa Dippel Gallistel Language Academy 6th & 7th grade, 4 years teaching. All of my students are reluctant readers, so I have to find interesting ways to engage them with text. One thing I started last year was modeling skills with song lyrics.

Adrienne DiSabatino Jordan School Pre-K, 10 years teaching. The most important thing I learned about teaching literacy in early childhood is the importance of simply instilling a love of books. While some of my students had been exposed to reading before, many of them had not. This allowed me to introduce reading as an exciting and enticing new activity

Marilyn Duff Swift Specialty School Kindergarten, 3 years teaching. The most important thing that I have learned is that there is no one size fits all way to teach reading to my students. I have 31 students this year who are all at different reading levels. I have students who have never learned the alphabet to students who are reading above way above grade level.

Sean Eichenser Rosario Castellanos School 8th grade. I attempt to foster a love of reading with my students first and foremost by keeping up to date on what they are reading in the moment. At this current moment every one of my 8th grade girls is reading “The Fault in Our Stars” so, like it or not I had to read it and I began incorporate it into my class.

Elizabeth Evans Montessori School of Englewood Pre-K & Kindergarten, 3 years teaching.  I would like to have access to more quality children’s books so I can model reading fluency and teach comprehension. When I read to my children, I want them to be drawn in by the pictures and the words.

Greg Fairbank Kanoon Magnet School 7th grade, 4 years teaching. The most important thing I've learned about my students related to teaching reading is to engage them. When I was a middle school student I only occasionally felt this engagement in reading, and I now strive to do so as often as possible.

Michelle Fane Peirce School of Intl. Studies 4th grade, 3 years teaching. My WITS tutor, Lisa, has been a great asset to me and to my students this year. LIsa works twice a week with six of my students who struggle the most with reading.  Lisa reinforces the work I am doing with these students in guided reading groups. The students adore their time with Lisa,

Lucien Ferguson Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy 3rd-5th grade, 2 years teaching.  Sometimes, I like to think of my big reading-instruction goal for my students as being that they grow into adults that would participate in a book club. To be in a book club, you need to be able to choose a good book independently, read it through to completion with adequate comprehension, and be able to participate in stimulating conversation around the book with friends.

Jennifer Fix Kanoon Magnet School 3rd and 4th grade, 5 years teaching. Being a special education teacher and having struggled myself growing up in school, I am able to share my past frustrations with my students about when I did not like to read either. I explain to them that reading can even be difficult for adults and teachers, but that they should not give up.

Virginia Garcia-Flores Corkery School 5th grade, 12 years teaching. My students’ reading abilities range from a third grade reading level to high school reading level. In order to get them talking about books they read, I form various book clubs throughout the year.

Catherine Garrity Corkery School 3rd grade, 6 years teaching. This year I hope to learn more about implementing creative and meaningful vocabulary strategies into my units and teaching.

Abigail George Kanoon Magnet School 4th and 5th grade, 4 years teaching. I think one of my greatest strengths as a reading teacher is my own love of reading.

Laura Gluckman Sidney Sawyer Elementary 6th grade, 5 years teaching. Because of RLTA, I have been able to be a part of a small group of teachers who share many parts of my teaching philosophy - the need to cultivate joyous, just, and collaborative spaces, the need to foster curiosity, and the need to build strong readers.

Jen Goggins Montessori School of Englewood Pre-K; Kindergarten, 4 years teaching. I truly love reading, and this comes across to my students. Especially for young children, teacher enthusiasm in a given content area can have a huge impact on how much students are willing to participate.

Rocio Gonzalez Sidney Sawyer Elementary 3rd and 4th grade, 6 years teaching. The aspect of literacy teaching I most hope to develop is how to integrate novels into guided reading and literature circles. I think that some students are ready to have discussions about books read in class and I would like to begin giving them independence.

Amanda Grace Gibbs Jordan School 3rd grade, 2 years teaching. As this is only my second year teaching I am constantly reflecting and working on how to improve my craft. I think the biggest thing I have learned about supporting my students when it comes to reading is that consistency is important, as well as, using data to plan my instruction.

Marlena Gustafson Saucedo Scholastic Academy 6th grade, 10  years teaching. I have always enjoyed reading and have had many great Reading teachers over the years. Throughout my teaching career, I have tried to recreate these same positive experiences for my students.

Megan Haapala Joseph Brennemann School 1st grade, 3 years teaching.  I promote joy and foster a love of reading every day with the students. At least twice a day, my students and I meet on our rug for an intentional, strategically planned out read-aloud. Although they do not see the background planning phase, my student do see my daily excitement in sharing the book I picked with them.

Natalie Hall STEM Magnet Elementary School 3rd grade, 4 years teaching. By participating in the RLTA program, I hope to develop my techniques for teaching close reading. I believe the process I have begun this year for teaching close reading is a good starting point, however, I know there is a lot I do not know. I am hoping to take my teaching to the next level through RLTA.

Samantha Handel KIPP Ascend Primary School 4th grade, 3 years teaching. I love reading narrative non-fiction, in which I can read a gripping and emotional story but also learn about the world. I like to share what I'm reading with students casually, but also bring it into the writing classroom to show what I'm noticing in the book I'm reading that I can use as a mentor for my own writing.

Mark Harlan Brentano Academy 5th grade, 12 years teaching. As my students transition from elementary school to middle school, I am trying to instill a sense of independence and confidence in them. I remind them that I am proud of their willingness to ask for help, but part of growing up is an ability to handle things on their own.

Colleen Harrah Haugan School Kindergarten and 1st grade, 10 years teaching. I want my students (yes, even at the Kindergarten age) to learn to that it's okay to have opinions about stories, to learn different things from different characters' actions (having different "take-aways"), and to have confidence sharing what they are learning.

Dee Hebert Otis Elementary Pre-K, 25 years teaching. In order to promote a joy and love of reading for my students, I provide many opportunities to interact with literature during the day.

Melissa Hendler Brentano Academy 1st grade, 3 years teaching. Through literature, I have been able to connect students with important time periods in our history. Through learning the stories of Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, and so many more influential African Americans, my students have learned their struggles, felt compassion, and learned the lessons that these important individuals brought to our country

Jessica Henning Nathanael Greene School 5th grade, 4 years teaching. The most important thing that I learned about my students related to teaching reading was how imperative it is for them to have a lot of explicit modeling and time for guided practice when building their comprehending abilities.

Sarah Hoehn Swift Specialty School 6th and 7th grade, 4 years teaching. This year as part of implementing the CCSS, I have focused more on close reading of both informational and fictional texts. I encouraged students to use textual evidence from passages to reinforce their analysis of the text.

Renee Holman Swift Specialty School 3rd grade,  5 years teaching.  Just like brushing my teeth in the morning or making coffee, reading is part of my daily routine. Every night, without fail, I sit in bed with my book and read.

Susan Holmes Eliza Chappell School 6th grade, 5 years teaching. Since taking part in the Rochelle Lee Teacher Awards program, I have more confidence in my ability to provide effective instruction in reading. I feel that the program has allowed me to meet many teachers who are as eager to learn as I am and who are open to new ways of teaching and learning.

Erik Hull Swift Specialty School 6th grade, 15 years teaching. My participation in RLTA strengthened my teaching practice and leadership capacity as I presented teaching strategies on integrating reading and writing to teachers at my school and across the district.

Rebecca Hurst Bateman Elementary 4th grade, 7 years teaching. Reading does not have to be an isolating activity with students at their desk. My students read in partners, participate in literature circles, discuss what they read with me and their parents, make book recommendations to classmates, and can bring books from home to share with the class and each other.

Lauren James Legacy Charter School Kindergarten, 8 years teaching. When sharing a new text with my students, I always make connections to the story, give background information and display my excitement for the text. When reading independently, I conference with students and engage them in discussions about the book.

Katie Janiga Bridge Elementary Pre-K, 3 years teaching. By participating in the RLTA program, I hope to acquire quality literature and methods that will allow me to further enhance the teaching strategies I am currently incorporating into my classroom.

Eva Kainer Saucedo Scholastic Academy 5th grade, 1 year teaching. The aspect of my literacy teaching that I most hope to develop by participating in the RLTA program is providing students with a variety of authors and materials within the classroom. For most of my students the classroom is either the only place they can get a book or the only place they feel comfortable to enjoy reading

Kelly Kapple Rosario Castellanos School 6th grade, 1 year teaching. Read alouds as mentor texts and giving students the opportunities to interact with the text and sharing their thinking with each other. Reading The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton as our first class novel was magical. The students were totally engaged, fell in love with the characters and begged for the read alouds not to end.

Nancy Kirby Otis Elementary Pre-K,  28 years teaching. The most important thing I have learned this year about my students is that they really enjoy acting out stories that I have read to them. The first story we acted out was "Goldilocks and the Three Bears". I was surprised at how well most of them performed for the first time. The next day they asked if they could act out the story again.

Julianne Knox South Loop School 3rd grade, 3 years teaching. My participation in the Rochelle Lee Teacher Awards program two years ago built my confidence and bank of knowledge with teaching literacy. It was especially helpful after coming off my first year of teaching!

Rebecca Kornack Wolfgang A. Mozart Elementary 6th grade, 3 years teaching. I really love independent reading myself. As a child, I discovered reading early and fell in love with the worlds I could discover within the pages of a book. Ever since then, I have avidly sought out all types of literature for both business and pleasure.

Melissa Kucharczyk Bateman Elementary 3rd grade, 11 years teaching.  I have been working very hard to create a challenging and engaging literacy curriculum alongside completing my reading masters. I have gained insight on how the foundation literacy skills guide student's development into higher lever skills.

Ann Kuhlman Sharon McAuliffe School K-3rd grade, 18 years teaching. As a school who strongly believes in balanced literacy, I believe in the power of guided reading. I understand how imperative it is to teach my students what they need to move forward.

Lisa Lane Otis Elementary 7th & 8th grade, 10 years teaching. The aspect of literacy that I hope to continue to develop is that of comprehension. I want to get my students to a level that comprehension does not only include finding the main idea and supporting that idea through text examples.

Elizabeth Lathrop Saucedo Scholastic Academy 4th grade, 1 year teaching. I know how important the role of a classroom library is in developing literacy. Effective classroom libraries increase reading time, and the more time children spend reading, the better readers they become.

Vanessa Lesniak Swift Specialty School 8th grade, 4 years teaching. I use reading as a source of relaxation. I want my students to understand that reading is a form of mediation where it is the only time you can escape to another place and it costs nothing other than turning a few pages. I always allow sustained silent reading everyday for my students to choose a book that they like or are interested in.

Sophia Levinsky Louis Nettelhorst Elementary 2nd grade, 1 year teaching. While I try to make a classroom full of joy, I especially want my students to have a love of reading. Books in my classroom are often treated like some students treat toys. In my students’ eyes, books are of the utmost importance in our classroom.

Esmeralda Lopez Rachel Carson Elementary 2nd grade, 3 years teaching. I think that students are more curious about our learning because we are making more connections to prior learning within a school year. I hope that I can strengthen my units for next year and continue to teach students to think about the importance of nature and our natural resources throughout the year.

Katie Louie Corkery School 5th grade, 3 years teaching. It is a passion of mine to plant that seed and love for informational reading in my students. Participating in the RLTA program will allow me to collaborate with my colleagues who have the same passion/goal for our school and students.

Lacy Lucien Bateman Elementary 3rd grade, 11 years teaching. One thing that my students really enjoy is our daily read aloud time. We take turns choosing the books. Most of them look forward to it and really enjoy it. They are able to listen to books that they are very interested in, but may be far beyond their own reading level.

Mary Lyons Saucedo Scholastic Academy 3rd grade, 13 years teaching. I have learned so much this year about teaching reading with my unique bunch of 3rd grade students. The most important thing I learned overall was that there is not one set way to teach reading that will work for all classes.

Andi Mariategui Swift Specialty School 3rd grade,  2 years teaching. Throughout the year, I also do periodic library “tours.” I take note of which book bins and sections go untouched and then do a very exciting and informative minilesson on what books are in there, what students can learn about, and who might be interested in them. This helps students acquaint themselves with authors, genres, and topics they might have otherwise overlooked.

​Syliva Martinzez Lozano Bilingual School 1st grade, 11 years teaching. The WITS volunteers have had a great difference in my class. My students enjoy their company and their caring attitude. The volunteers have helped some of my students build their confidence when it came to essential skills and participating in class discussions.

Monica Martinez Saucedo Scholastic Academy 3rd grade, 9 years teaching. This year, I have incorporated read aloud books with my students in a different way from what I have done in previous years. This year, the read aloud approach has been to read books that have characteristics and elements that show character values.

Jami McDonald STEM Magnet Elementary School 3rd grade, 5 years teaching. Through my participation in the RLTA program I hope to develop my understanding of close reading. I would like to learn how to implement it in a more meaningful way in my classroom. I would also like to learn what it looks like for teachers and students to complete a close read on a text.

Tim McEachran McDowell School 5th grade, 1 year teaching. The aspect of literacy teaching that I hope most to develop is providing my students with enriching materials that they can use both in and outside of the classroom so that they can foster a love of reading and not see it as a chore to do in school.

Evelyn McGhee Corkery School 8th grade, 8 years teaching. Participating in the Rochelle Lee Teacher Awards program has helped me tremendously. I have participated in a study group that focused on academic conversations. I have implemented strategies from my professional reading and monitored the effectives of the strategies with my expected outcomes.

Mary McGowan Barbara Vick Village Early Childhood and Family Center Pre-Kindergarten, 1 year teaching. This is my first year teaching and so it is very difficult to single out the one most important thing that I have learned, as I feel that I learn a dozen things every day.

Lindsay McGrane STEM Magnet Elementary School Kindergarten, 10 years teaching. Some of my favorite lessons to teach my kindergarten students involve teaching students to create mental images as they read (or as a text is read aloud to them). My favorite text for this is The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. I love this text because it is one that really engages the sense magic and wonder in a kindergartener’s mind.

Anna McKenzie Rosario Castellanos School 7th grade, 4 years teaching. Knowing that the best way to increase a students' ability in reading is to read, I make time for my students to read everyday. I have my students read silently 20 minutes every day as a way for them to unwind from the day.

Mary Mendoza-Ramirez Saucedo Scholastic Academy 8th grade, 15 years teaching. Being part of RLTA has only enhanced my teaching approach to reading by allowing me to be more transparent with both my colleagues and students by sharing what I’ve learned and demonstrating my enthusiasm and love for reading. Because of RLTA and my passion for what I teach, I have managed to ‘hook’ seven other colleagues to get together once a month to discuss and share ideas about reading and finding solutions to many of the frustrations we might have in common.

Anne Merrick Eliza Chappell School 1st grade, 1 year teaching. The important thing I have learned about my students related to teaching reading is that the more I instill in them the love of reading, the better the readers they will become. Reading is one of the most rewarding and challenging skills to teach.

Dana Midura Otis Elementary 4th grade, 1 year teaching. My students laugh at how much I enjoy reading. They know how much I do because of the way I talk about books: their books, our books, and especially my books.

Laura Miner Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy 4th grade, 2 years teaching. celebrate readers and reading all the time. I maintain a classroom climate where students know they will be able to read a book of their choice everyday. I buy books that students are going to enjoy reading and books that they’ll talk about.

Diana Miranda Jordan School 2nd grade, 4 years teaching. One of the most important thing that I learned about my students was their enthusiasm when it came to reading different genres and learning new information about people, animals, places, history, etc. It was so fascinating to see how much they enjoyed various types of text.

Chris Moy Stephen Hayt Elementary 4th grade, 6 years teaching. Using illustrated children’s books in my classroom has a twofold purpose of introducing comprehension skills to students while exposing them to character development ideas. I have found that the pictures help to make the text and the comprehension focus skill more accessible to a wide array of learners.

Karyn Murphy Burley Elementary Kindergarten, 2 years teaching. I hope to further develop my whole group independent reading lessons. I want to ensure that my mini-lessons are reaching all readers at their own level and pace, and not overly-generalized for the majority. I want to seek out more ways to reach students who struggle, and challenge the students who are reading at a higher level.

Molly Nelson Genevieve Melody School 3rd grade, 3 years teaching. As a teacher, I have also felt incredibly supported by our WITS volunteers. I look forward to our Thursdays with WITS for many reasons. My students’ are considered “high-needs” for academic as well as social reasons. WITS helps me to bridge the achievement gap for the students.

Paige Nilson Hamilton School 2nd grade, 5 years teaching. I am a book lover. I love to read books, especially when they are books recommended by a friend of family member because then I have someone to talk to about the book. Books can be a connection for people and I love when I meet someone new and we bond over the love of a shared text.

Britny OKones Joseph Brennemann School Kindergarten, 1 year teaching.  I intentionally use children’s books in my teaching each and every day. As a kindergarten teacher, I introduce concepts and strategies that I hope they will begin to use to become better readers and learners. To

America Olmedo Saucedo Scholastic Academy 5th grade, 16 years teaching. I learned from my students that they come to fifth grade with different reading levels. The reading grade levels range from kindergarten to fourth grade. I also learned that I need a lot of patience and a lot of skills to help my students become better readers.

Elizabeth O'Malley Sidney Sawyer Elementary 7th grade, 1 year teaching.  I have used books in many ways this year. I used young adult books in literature circles with my classes. I modeled how to conduct literature circles, gave the students practice time within their roles, and gave them feedback on their questions, responses, and discussions as a whole.

Suzanne Orlich Henry D. Lloyd School Pre-K ,26 years teaching.  I learned the importance of reading aloud to my students and allowing them the chance to offer comments. By participating in the Study Group, I learned a lot about interactive writing. I got a lot of great ideas from the other members in my group which I then tried out in my own small group.

Melanie Ortiz Montessori School of Englewood Pre-K, 2 years teaching.  By participating in the RLTA program, I hope to cultivate better techniques at aiding students in internalizing the texts we read and making deep connections to their own life experiences. As a relatively new preschool teacher, I have so much to learn about how to get students invested in reading and learning through the texts we have that it is one of the main things I want to take away from the program.

Lorraine Ortiz Edison Park Elementary School 4th grade, 14  years teaching. In our classroom, we will oftentimes share book talks with one another. I love this experience because children are able to highlight short summaries of their readings, which, ultimately, causes a contagious enthusiasm to spread amongst the students.

Suzanne Park Andrew Jackson Language Academy 6th grade,  3 years teaching. Participating in the RLTA program has allowed me to network with other teachers who share the same passion of students learning literacy. The resources I have obtained through professional development workshops have been most helpful as they enabled me to build upon my best practices as well as help other reading groups throughout our school to be successful.

Jena Parsons North River Elementary Kindergarten & 1st grade. Reading has always been an exciting escape for me. I love reading books fantasy and adventure stories as well as classics. Each Monday, we sit at the carpet and discuss our weekend before class begins. I invite my students to talk about something that they read over the weekend.

Linda Perales Corkery School K-2nd grade, 2 years teaching. Participating in Boundless Readers has given me the amazing opportunity to have a safe and open space in which I coulddiscuss what reading/writing looks like in my classroom with my colleagues. I have learned what reading/writing looks in their classrooms, and their experiences and feedback have been invaluable.

Julia Phelps Corkery School 1st grade, 10 years teaching. I have also found that participating in professional readings and discussions, I have been better able to participate knowledgeably in conversations with colleagues about best practices. I also found that being a leader of one of the Boundless Readers study groups has helped me be even more reflective of my practices as a reader and a teacher.

Evelyn Pollins Swift Specialty School 3rd grade, 8 years teaching. In my classroom, I have integrated many of the skills I have learned through the summer PD sessions throughout my reader’s workshop. It’s has been a long time since I took a workshop, so specifics are difficult for me to articulate, but as I look at my workshop today, I can see features that are there because of work I can trace back to RLTA worksohps.

Sharon Ponder Wadsworth School 8th grade, 23 years teaching. As a teacher at Byrd Community Academy, I was so blessed to have several WITS volunteers that would come out to our school at least twice a week and I thought that they were sent from heaven.

Melissa Potts Saucedo Scholastic Academy 5th grade, 7 years teaching. I promote an environment that allows students to explore who they are as readers and begin building their reading identity. I provide daily mini-lessons to support their fluency and comprehension. I promote the joy of reading by reading aloud daily, bringing a book alive.

Barb Prohaska Lenart Regional Gifted Center Pre-K, 13 years teaching. I have children who avoid going to the library center and want to encourage them to explore more books rather than play in other centers. I need ideas for extension activities for children's books and ways to bring other disciplines into stories. I just need ideas to keep myself fresh and learn new strategies which have been proven to be successful since I have taken my literacy courses in college, specifically related to preschool.

Theresa Quitshaw Gary Elementary 8th grade, 6 years teaching. One way I have promote joy and foster a love of reading in my students is by being a “book dealer.” I have become the “middle man” between really great literature and my students. It almost feels like I am tricking my students into reading something they normally wouldn’t want to read, but in reality I am making these books sound so appealing that they want to read them.

Stasie Randle Corkery School 2nd grade, 6 years teaching. This year, I have really focused my attention on developing students’ identities as readers. From the very beginning of the year, I conferred with students about their book choices for independent reading to identify their experiences and interests in reading.

Deborah Ratulowski Otis Elementary 6th grade, 20 years teaching.  By being excited about the books themselves. I also have a classroom library that I try to keep current with new books and trends. I give the students time to read independently with a book that fits them. We then journal and conference about the stories. We have book talks and share our favorites.

Shannon Redding Saucedo Scholastic Academy 6th grade, 6 years teaching. Why do I think the Inquiry Learning will be beneficial to our students? I believe children’s natural curiosity needs to be sparked. In early education, educators learn that children learn through play. This concept can be translated to the middle school classroom because when students are engaged and motivated to read they read more often and more effortlessly.

Juana Resendiz Jordan School 3rd grade, 9 years teaching. I did not grow up as a reader, I only read because I needed to. As I got older I discovered the magic of books. In high school I started to develop the habit of reading and eventually that became a passion. Now I read every night and I make sure I share those experiences with my students.

Miliany Rivera Jordan School 1st grade, 4 years teaching. I believe that two heads are better than one, and this will be a great opportunity to share among colleagues. This program will make me a better literacy teacher to better serve my students, who truly need a solid literacy foundation.

Shirley Roberson Andrew Carnegie Elementary 4th grade, 10 years teaching.  I use children’s literature as read-alouds in my class. For example, in Science, we are learning about Plant and Animals and how they reproduce. I chose From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons as a read aloud because it had illustrations that really gave students a visual of the concepts their Science books covered

Christine Roberts KIPP Ascend Primary School 2nd grade,  3 years teaching. I am an avid reader. I often spend my summers off reading for pleasure. I have invested my students in being life-long readers by choosing texts that are interesting to them and increasing in complexity as their skills increase.

Tiffany Robinson Orville T. Bright School 6th-8th grade, 2 years teaching. The RLTA has also changed me because it has made me realize how much I love to read. I dedicate time for myself to read in a different relaxing place each week just to have that time to myself.

Priscilla Rowe Bateman Elementary 4th grade, 1 year teaching. Helping to make my students feel successful and gain confidence in their comprehension makes them more resilient and increases their persistence in reading increasingly more challenging texts.

Carol Rowley Rachel Carson Elementary K-3rd grade, 1 year teaching.  Since my students are young, struggling readers, I tend to share more experiences from my childhood regarding books that I loved and what reading meant to me. I keep stressing the knowledge and experiences that you can gain from the written word and how it can open up the world to you.

Kelly Rubel Edison Park Elementary School, 3rd grade, 4 years teaching. I want to learn about different techniques to challenge the most developed readers in my classroom. I want to develop an understanding of titles that will challenge them as high readers, but also have content that is developmentally appropriate for them to be reading at their age.

Kathryn Rucker Audubon School 4th grade, 6 years teaching. Along with a lot of modeling, I have learned the power of empathy in reading. Much of our success has been with placing ourselves in our characters’ shoes and walking a mile. When genuinely unsure about character motivations, we have been dramatizing situations, pausing, and reflecting.

Deborah Rudnicki Kanoon Magnet School 5th grade, 23 years teaching. We write daily logs of our reading; book reports; research reports; summaries; analyses; reflections; and responses. This extensive reading and writing has expanded and enhanced my students love of reading for pleasure to include reading for information and that, in turn, has improved their reading proficiency.

Nereida Ruiz James Monroe Elementary 2nd grade, 3 years teaching. The Rochelle Lee Teacher Awards Program to date, has allowed me to experience some of the best professional development sessions of my teaching years. I was a recipient during my second year of teaching. It encouraged reading outside of teaching such as reading for pleasure.

Paloma Salcedo Corkery School 3rd grade, 3 years teaching. As an adult level reader, I understand how crucial it is to pause and annotate a text while you’re reading. I teach the same skills to my students by modeling how to stop after a section in a text, ask questions, and note important points.

Jazmin Sanchez William E. Dever School 2nd grade, 1 year teaching. I'm very respectful of the individuality of each student. One way I foster their differences is by promoting the acceptance of their opinions during literacy circles. We see someone politely disagreeing with someone's view of the text as an opportunity for questioning their understanding of same text, this allows us to see things from their perspective.

Nicole Sandoval Brentano Academy 1st grade, 2 years teaching. This past year as my second year teaching, I have learned a plethora of what will set my students up for success. I have implemented several things that have aided my students' reading comprehension and ability to work independently as well as collaboratively.

Kelly Sandquist Andrew Jackson Language Academy 2nd grade, 1 year teaching.  As a student, I was an avid reader. The excitement and joy of reading continued into my adult life. Living in Chicago and commuting to work, I constantly have at least on book in my bag. Reading on my way to and from work quickly became a time of day that I looked forward to.

Nicole Schollmeyer KIPP Ascend Primary School Kindergarten through 2nd grade, 2 years teaching. I bring joy into literacy instruction through cheers, chants, and songs. Every phonics activity we do has a chant that accompanies it, and it makes students more excited to try out these skills.

Kelly Schuster Joseph Brennemann School 3rd grade, 4 years teaching. The RLTA program has also given me the potential opportunity to serve in a leadership role at my school as a study group leader. This is an exciting opportunity for me because as a young teacher, I haven’t often envisioned myself as a leader outside of my classroom.

Nancy Sepulveda Kanoon Magnet School 4th grade, 3 years teaching. In addition, I know when I read a book I like to share what I’m reading, especially the most exciting parts of the book. I know kids want to do that as well, and when I read a book I make sure to stop and give them time to discuss and make predictions.

Kelly Shade STEM Magnet Elementary School 6th grade, 1 year teaching. The most important thing that I have learned about my students is that they struggle to retain the information learned if it cannot be associated with their schema and topics of interest. I changed my teaching practices by polling my students to incorporate topics that interest them. I also allow my students to read material and practice various skills based on the texts of their choice.

Jodi Shapiro Edison Park Elementary School 5th grade, 13 years teaching. I have started an optional book club with students in my class at the beginning of the new year. The students who would like to join work with me to choose an interesting book and the students vote (with encouragement from me). Our first book was historical fiction, Someone Named Eva, and they loved it!

Peter Simpson Otis Elementary 1st grade, 9 years teaching. I try to help students find joy in reading through my being a person who loves reading and sharing the experience. Taking an interest in students reading and reading behaviors. Talking about what they are reading and helping them find more to a book than just surface level reading.

Amanda Sneed William H. Ray School 6th grade, 1 year teaching. My students, regardless of reading level or reading challenges, all enjoy reading. Because of this and because I know that sustained reading time will help my students grow as readers, I have learned to provide students with daily independent reading time.

Joris Soeding Philip Rogers Elementary 5-6th grade, 6 years teaching. Boundless Readers has improved everything from a text used in an Essay unit for my fifth graders to literally expanding my library to the point of having students beg me to check out another book. Each component has been very beneficial. From the beginning at the ceremony in May through the classroom visit and communication with Daphne, each experience has been so rewarding.

Carrie Stern Edison Park Elementary School 5th grade, 10  years teaching. Once I model to them the skills needed, they quickly grab on and go with it. They are such motivated and independent learners, constantly pushing themselves to learn more and go the extra step when it comes to literacy.

Jennifer Stratmann Morton School of Excellence 6th-8th grade, 4 years teaching. I try to model my literacy center activities in such a way that I can scaffold the activities to increase rigor without ever changing the format. My students have responded very well. Running successful literacy centers is hard, but every day my kids gain independence and get more and more work done.

Amy Swartzell Sidney Sawyer Elementary 5th grade, 15 years teaching. I learned just how important it was to have a read aloud, opportunity for silent reading daily and a component for a take home reading program. I saw the results immediately.

Andon Tate STEM Magnet Elementary School 5th grade, 3 years teaching. Participating in the RLTA program has made me more connected to my teaching practice. It has helped me to realize that I do have strengths and given me confidence in areas that I had questioned myself on in the past. It has also strengthened my passion for teaching by being surrounded by other teachers who are equally motivated.

Brandy Turbiak Albany Park Academy 7-8th grade, 6 years teaching. I am forever grateful for participating in the RLTA program. Not only was I able to attend amazing professional development that has been helpful in my classroom, but I was able to participate in a study group to read a novel that I use everyday in my teaching practice.

Maritza Vazquez Bateman Elementary 4th grade, 8 years teaching. during our breaks you will find me cuddled up with a book. I love to teach my students the strategies that have helped me become a better reader. I have also shared my reading habits and interests.

Mary Villa Henry D. Lloyd School Pre-K,  15 years teaching. The best way for me to foster a love of reading for my students is to show them that I love reading and that I am going to read many stories to them. Reading is fun and interesting. During a read aloud I ensure that I “hook” my students by introducing the book in an interesting way or using my voice.

Kelsey Waggoner Corkery School 4th grade, 2 years teaching. I always try to make learning fun and a great experience for my students. I try to really celebrate their accomplishments as readers. Because of their learning disabilities my students in particular struggle and need additional support to improve in their reading abilities, which can be frustrating for them. I really try to make reading fun and exciting for them, and find books and relate the lessons to them and things that they are passionate about.

Gina Walsh Rachel Carson Elementary 4th grade, 4 years teaching. By participating in the RLTA program, I hope to learn how I can better choose different texts to use as mentor texts in my lessons. I often struggle with finding the perfect book to teach a new strategy or skill. This would help me when teaching a mini lesson whole group, or during guided reading in a small group.

Elizabeth Warwick Hamilton School 6th-8th grade, 3 years teaching. I love talking about books with my students! Whenever we have a few extra minutes in our busy schedule I enjoy sharing book ideas. Because we read novels together as a class I can read aloud to my students almost everyday.

Anna Whittles Albany Park Academy 7th-8th grade, 8 years teaching. I am an avid reader now, although I wasn’t always this way. As a middle school student in particular, I really struggled with comprehension and this is something that I share all the time with students. When we are reading a difficult text or if they are struggling through a book they chose for independent reading, I frequently make a point of validating their feelings by letting them know that reading was hard for me too, and I help guide them to strategies that have helped me.

Jessica Wilkes Benjamin E. Mays Academy 3rd grade, 10 years teaching. The volunteers are really working with my students. My students always talk about their experiences with the WITS teachers. They are able to work with about 9 of my students once a week. When I first learned of the program, my students were so excited about working with the volunteers.

Brittany Williams Brentano Elementary School 3rd grade, 4 years teaching. The Rochelle Lee Teacher Award has been able to change my teaching through trainings, providing an individual focus, collaboration with other teachers, and creating confidence heading forward. This summer, the trainings were a wonderful experience. The choice in classes made it more personal and relevant to areas I would like help.

Antoinette Williams Marquette School 4th grade, 9 years teaching. I was also able to provide my students with new books for our classroom library, which included many graphic novels. Graphic novels are often shone down upon when placing school book orders, but because of Boundless Readers I was able to secure many titles for my students and they have TRULY enjoyed them.

Sandy Wilson Legacy Charter School 7th & 8th grade, 6 years teaching. I would love to increase the amount of classroom discussions we have. Children living in poverty rarely experience life’s offerings outside of their neighborhoods.

Hope Wilson Sherman School of Excellence 2nd and 3rd grade, 7 years teaching. After I have read to students or at the beginning of their independent reading time I will promote a book that I think is interesting and feature it as a suggested read. This gets kids excited because I am excited about the book. They are excited to read a featured book or a book by a featured author.

Laura Wipf John Foster Dulles School 1st grade, 10 years teaching. I read for fun on a daily basis. I have a novel by my bedside and make it a ritual to read before I go to sleep.

Ebony Wrenn Legacy Charter School Kindergarten, 3 years teaching. I am eager to potentially participate in the program for a second year as a study group leader! I was able to successfully recruit three other primary teachers who are just as eager and motivated to strengthen their literacy instruction. We are excited about the opportunity to work together with a shared goal of promoting progressive literacy instruction.

Ellen Zaander Peirce School of Intl. Studies 1st grade,  2 years teaching. As a teacher of a very diverse class, ranging from native speakers to students who are in their first year of school in the United States, one of the features that really set my students apart is the understanding and command of vocabulary. One of the ways I’ve worked to give all of my students a stronger foundation in vocabulary is by reading rich texts aloud daily to my students.

Monica Zaragoza Sidney Sawyer Elementary 4th grade, 7 years teaching. I try to make reading a fun experience where my students want to read and get to choose the books that interest them. I spend a lot of time looking for books at a bargain to build a library that gives my students to opportunity to choose that they like.

Diana Zurawski Saucedo Scholastic Academy 7th grade, 4 years teaching. Two essential aspects of my middle school classroom that promote joy and foster a love of reading are student choice and time to read. In order for students to love reading, they have to find books that interest them. My classroom is stocked with a large selection of books in a variety of genres both fiction and non-fiction. Students are allowed to check out books to read both in class and at home.


To This Fundraiser


  • Lisa Dorenfest


  • Mark Harlan


  • Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon


  • Revolution Brewing



1% Raised of $50,000 Goal

Fundraise for this Campaign

Donor Comments

Revolution Brewing

Revolution Brewing


3 years ago

Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon

Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon


Best of luck! 3 years ago

Mark Harlan

Mark Harlan


3 years ago

Lisa Dorenfest

Lisa Dorenfest


In Memory of Marena J Swenson 3 years ago