This month’s featured Everybody Wins! Iowa coordinator honor goes to Jan Fitzsimons. Jan is entering her seventh year of coordinating with EWI.
Prior to becoming a coordinator, Jan had a brief stint as a mentor for a few months. She was assigned to read at the Children & Family Urban Movement breakfast program in Des Moines.
“I enjoyed that right away,” Jan said. “All of my (previous) experiences with the school systems just made me fall in love all over again.”
Jan’s experience as a mentor led her to taking on a bigger role as a site coordinator.
She was promoted to a regional coordinator position later on, before the 2016-2017 school year began. The position was one that was newly created within the organization.
As a regional coordinator, Jan oversees a handful of EWI programs and works with the coordinators at each site from her region to ensure that all of the programs in her region operate smoothly. She views herself as a mentor to the site coordinators that she works with and works with them to resolve any issues that they may have.
Jan’s previous experience working in administration and in the school system, along with her passion for reading, made her feel like she was a natural fit with EWI.
“I loved reading with my own children,” Jan said. “I saw the difference it made in forging their values and in forging the way they thought. And we had the most interesting stories and conversations, so why wouldn’t I want to be in a conversation that would duplicate that? Of course!”
Jan has very much enjoyed watching the Power Read program grow over the years and has made many new friends within her community. She said that she has an extensive amount of positive memories from working with EWI over the years.
One memory in particular has to do with a group of boys who especially enjoyed shark books and dinosaur books. One boy enjoyed them so much that he decided to write his own book to bring to program.
“He got so enthused that he came one day with his own book that he had made,” Jan said. “Albeit, it was heavy on illustrations and small on text and many conversation bubbles above his stories. But it was delightful to see what had happened.”
Another great EWI moment occurred last year when Jan was at the bank, and a young woman noticed Jan’s name badge. She then reached out to Jan and told her about how she used to be in the EWI program at Monroe Elementary School when she was younger.
The young woman happened to be from another culture, so English wasn’t initially a language that she was comfortable with.
“She caught on very quickly,” Jan said. “I loved seeing that. And the fact that she was now working at a bank now and she had high goals and purposes.”
Jan is certainly looking forward to making even more memories like these in the future.
“One mentor, one student, and one book at a time,” Jan said. “And indeed, one school at a time, one program at a time, making a difference.”
Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to our program, Jan!