"At the end of the day," wrote the colleague who nominated her, "it is the joy Ms. Burnsworth brings to her students as she unlocks the mystery of reading for them that makes her worthy of this honor. Ms. Burnsworth is a consistent, committed, and student-centered master of her craft who perfectly balances the art and science of teaching. It is no wonder she is able to achieve such gains for her students."
Jeanette Simmons – Argyle Magnet Middle School, Silver Springs, MD
Mrs. Simmons is no stranger to the
classroom, having taught the program for three years in two different school systems at two different grade levels. During her first year as a
teacher, one of her students was selected to receive the Scholastic
All-Star Award—a testament to Mrs. Simmons's effective use of the program and her ability to accelerate her students' progress.
As one student wrote in her nomination,
"Mrs. Simmons helps a lot of students improve their reading and writing skills and she makes it easy for all students to understand everything better in class. She wants all students to get a good education."
Mrs. Simmons encourages a collaborative learning environment and urges her students to celebrate one another's success. She also acts as a mentor for fellow teachers and attends county-wide meetings to share tips and best practices for the classroom. In her spare time, Mrs. Simmons sponsors a group of
students called STTARS (Students Taking Their Academics Seriously). The members—students who have maintained a 2.5 GPA or higher—meet every other week to discuss ways they can continue to be successful, not only in her class, but also in life.
"Mrs. Simmons's expertise, her dedication to the READ 180 program, and her belief in the program's success make her the perfect candidate for this award," said the colleague who nominated her.
Dan Kane – Franklin Avenue School, Westfield, MA
A veteran teacher, Mr. Kane has worked with struggling students for the past 30 years, though last year marked his first teaching
. After being hand-picked by the principal of his school to head the
program, Mr. Kane set to work, ambitiously organizing a daily schedule of one
class and two
classes and transforming his classroom into a vibrant and inviting learning environment. He even purchased books for students to take home so they could nurture their love of reading outside of school hours and build their personal collections.
"It is almost impossible to put into words the energy, organization, and vitality that are a daily part of Mr. Kane's READ 180 classroom," wrote the principal who nominated him. "He encourages students to believe in themselves as learners and in their abilities to improve."
In the first few months that Mr. Kane taught
, one-third of the students had made enough progress to move on to
. The students placing out of Mr. Kane's class were the first to tell the incoming students how lucky they were to have Mr. Kane as a teacher.
"I hope I will make the honor roll in middle school, and I bet I can because of Mr. Kane's help," wrote one student in his nomination.
This success is only the beginning for Mr. Kane, who added another
class to his schedule in January.
System 44 Outstanding Educator is:
Gloria Garcia – Smith Elementary School, San Antonio, TX
As a former juvenile probation officer, Mrs. Garcia saw firsthand the significant number of young people who failed to develop literacy skills, and the struggles they encountered on a daily basis. Mrs. Garcia was determined to become a teacher who could keep students out of trouble by showing them a path to school success and a positive self-image. After completing an alternate teaching certification program in
, she transitioned from probation officer to teacher, noting,
"This is where I should have been all along."
Throughout her 26-year career in education, Mrs. Garcia has served in several capacities, including middle-school teacher, adjunct professor, co-director of alternative education programs, and educational diagnostician. Last year was her first year teaching
In the words of the principal who nominated her, Mrs. Garcia is
"strong, smart, and committed to helping students in all areas of their academics. She is my secret weapon."
Mrs. Garcia's commitment to her students is evident in her schedule: she provides tutoring before and after school, as well as on Saturdays. When it comes to success stories, her students' scores speak for themselves. This year alone, Mrs. Garcia's eleven students—all of whom were reading below grade level when they entered her
class—have made more than two years' growth.
"I have numerous parents each school year request—actually, demand—that their child be taught by Mrs. Garcia," wrote the principal in Mrs. Garcia's nomination form. "She changes lives, one student at a time."
About READ 180 and System 44
is a comprehensive system of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development that helps schools raise reading achievement for struggling readers in grades 4–12 and prepare them for college and career;
is a breakthrough foundational reading and phonics intervention technology program for the most challenged students in grades 3–12.
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