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Evanston Mayor Lorraine Morton issued a proclamation recognizing INVEST’s 30 years of connecting schools and community in a partnership to help all public school children in Evanston.
INVEST, a volunteer organization that serves Evanston School Districts 65 and 202, was started in 1978 by a concerned group of community members in response to the elimination of school programs and services due to budget cuts. Today, the not-for-profit organization continues to support Evanston/Skokie schools in a number of different ways.
Perhaps the most visible service offered is the recruiting and assigning of tutors and classroom helpers, with the help of two INVEST coordinators – District 65 coordinator Laura Antolín and District 202 coordinator Ellen Morgan. At the elementary and middle school levels, teachers are encouraged to make requests for classroom helpers. Working under the teacher’s direction, these volunteers will do anything from individual tutoring to supervising learning stations or working with small groups.
At Evanston Township High School, students needing assistance are matched up with either peer tutors or community members who volunteer their time during one period of the school day to work one on one with a student. Students make up a large portion of tutors at the high school level, with more than 75 student tutors volunteering last school year to work with their peers in a variety of subjects.
INVEST also has a Museum Alliance Program that allows teachers to take advantage of a cooperative effort between local museums and Evanston/Skokie schools. INVEST provides free buses every year to each school in District 65 and District 202 for field trips to Museum Alliance institutions and offers additional mini-grants to teachers for special projects and activities. During the past school year, nearly 2,000 school children were exposed to the wonders of museums throughout the area, including the Botanic Garden, the Mitchell Indian Museum and the Emily Oaks Nature Museum, to name just three of the 11-member Museum Alliance.
Bill Speth, who has been an INVEST board member for nearly six years, says the goal of INVEST is more focused than it has ever been. “I feel we have become a full-fledged partner with the high school, and it is very gratifying to know we are a part of the school’s support system.”
Each year, INVEST recognizes an outstanding volunteer tutor who has impacted a student’s educational experience in a profound way. This past May, INVEST honored volunteer Leonard Adams, a retired businessman. Mr. Adams not only spent several years tutoring a student who is now in college, but also designed and taught units on astronomy to a group of fifth-graders at Dawes Elementary School.
” I love it,” says Mr. Adams. “I find the kids to be smart and interested. It can be challenging but so rewarding.”
In its 30th anniversary year, the INVEST Board encourages the community to “Re-INVEST in Education.” To volunteer to tutor or for additional information on ways to support INVEST, contact District 65 resource coordinator Laura Antolín at 847-492-5990 or District 202 resource coordinator Ellen Morgan at 847-424-7686.