NEW YORK, April 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL), the global children's publishing, education and media company, today named 13 exceptional students in grades 5–12 as READ 180 ® and System 44 ® All-Stars. Thanks to their dedicated teachers and enrollment in Scholastic READ 180 or System 44, the leading blended learning programs proven to raise reading achievement for at-risk readers, these students achieved remarkable reading gains. They were able to overcome obstacles, setting themselves on the path to college and career readiness.
The 13 award winners—ten READ 180 students and three System 44 students—have all significantly improved their reading abilities and developed newfound self-confidence with support from their dedicated READ 180 and System 44 teachers. Whether they faced health challenges, learning disabilities or the difficulty of learning English for the first time, these 13 students from across the country were able to put aside academic and personal challenges to make significant reading gains that are helping them succeed in all subject areas.
"I am inspired by the stories of these All-Stars and their ability to persevere, work hard and overcome the challenges in their paths," said Margery Mayer, President of Scholastic Education. "For students to meet the more rigorous reading and writing standards being put in place across the country, it is vital for them to become expert readers and writers. The stories of these incredible students should serve as a reminder that it's never too late for students to learn to read and turn their academic careers and lives around."
The 2014 READ 180 All-Star Award winners are:Elementary School
- Michaela Bowser Age 11 – Grade: 5 – Baker Elementary School, Altoona, PA Having been homeschooled through the third grade, Michaela entered Baker Elementary School as a fourth-grader with an infectious enthusiasm for learning, but as a beginning reader. It's now one year later, and Michaela has closed gaps in phonics and surpassed her goals. With hard work and support from her teachers and family, she is now closer than ever to being on grade level. " Due largely to her participation and success in the READ 180 program, Michaela now has many aspirations for her future," noted her teacher. " In addition to attending a trade school, Michaela wishes to play volleyball professionally. Not only has she been practicing her skills, she has been reading books about the sport to learn as much as she can."
- Dalton West Age 11 – Grade: 5 – Canton Elementary STEM Academy, Canton, GA Today, Dalton loves to read so much that he can often be found reading books for fun at home while other kids are playing video games. But reading wasn't always fun for him. Before starting READ 180, Dalton was two years below grade level in reading. Also, health challenges forced Dalton and his family to make repeated trips between Georgia and Ohio for treatment. But he always remained motivated to succeed. Passionate about his education, Dalton continued his studies through the use of e-readers. Inspired by the men and women who have served him during his hospitalization, Dalton wants to give back with a career in the medical field. "Dalton is making the connection between his studies and his future hopes and dreams," said his teacher, Robert Howland. "His positive example makes him a true role model for other students."
- Caleb Yamaguchi Age 11 – Grade: 6 – Sakamoto Elementary School, San Jose, CA Two years ago, at the beginning of his fourth grade year, Caleb struggled with many of the building blocks of reading (decoding, sound-symbol connections and phonics) because of a learning disability that added to the challenge of learning to read. After two years in intervention programs, first System 44 and then READ 180, Caleb has quickly improved his reading skills, jumping the equivalent of three grade levels in his reading ability. A crowning achievement for him was reading Hatchet, a grade-level text, along with the rest of his classmates. " It was hard, but I had to read it on my own," he said. His teacher says he is now a leader in the classroom and on the football field, where he dreams of becoming an NFL star.
- Lisette Cortes Age 13 – Grade: 7 – Washington Middle School, Yakima, WA When speaking with Lisette, you would never guess that two years ago she was a timid student who read on a first grade level. Today, Lisette reads on an 8 th grade level and has become a leader at home by helping her siblings with schoolwork. Next year, Lisette will serve as a school mentor to incoming 6 th-graders. When asked how READ 180 has impacted her life, Lisette said, " It has helped me read better. I used to read slowly and I used to get frustrated when I was reading, because I couldn't read fast like the other kids." Currently Lisette is earning all A's and B's. " With the success she has developed through READ180 her confidence is carrying over to her other classes," said her teacher, Heather Harris.
- Jose Feliciano Age 13 – Grade: 7 – Spc. Rafael Hernando Middle School, El Paso, TX A kind and generous "helper," as his teacher describes him, Jose never hesitates to step up and help his fellow READ 180 students when they need assistance. Just a few months ago, he was a student whose reading scores were holding him back from succeeding in all his classes and dragging down his self-confidence. But all that has changed since the beginning of his seventh grade year. He has already gained the equivalent of two years in his reading skills in this school year. His newfound success has boosted his confidence, helped him become more self-reliant in class, and transformed him into a leader. " This program has given me the confidence needed to achieve better grades in both reading and writing," Jose said. He says he wants to pursue a career where he can help others. Like his father, he says he wants to join the Army.
- Robert Moser Age 13 – Grade: 7 – Upper Merion Middle School, King of Prussia, PA Robert is an honor student, a member of the student council and a voracious reader. His story inspires because of the obstacles he overcame to get where he is today. A student with autism, Robert was unable to speak until he was 4 years old. In three years since he started READ 180 , his reading skills have soared, allowing him to read at a fifth-grade level with the goal of eventually achieving grade level fluency. "Robert has demonstrated remarkable growth socially due to the increase in his self-esteem and self-confidence as he's found success in his academics," said his teacher. Robert is a passionate Philadelphia sports fan and continues to read every day with dreams of one day becoming an animator.
- Manuel de Jesus Hernandez-Martinez Age 16 – Grade: 10 – Thomas Dale High School, Chester, VA Manuel immigrated to the United States from Mexico when he was five years old. Coming from a household of Spanish speakers, Manuel had to learn English at school and translate for his family. At the start of his 8 th grade year, Manuel was a beginning reader. Through the use of READ 180, this year he was able to pass all his Virginia Standards of Learning tests for the ninth grade. " One of the biggest ways READ 180 has helped me was when I needed to get my Social Security card," Manuel explained. "I got the form and was able to read and fill it out all on my own. If it wasn't for READ180, I never would have been able to understand he complicated forms." In 2016, Manuel will be the first person in his family to earn a high school diploma.
- Michael Hurd Age 17 – Grade: 12 – Dover High School, Dover, DE At the beginning of his high school career, Michael had significant difficulties with reading because of his dyslexia and because the content at the high school level was simply too challenging for someone so far behind. Fast forward to today: Michael is an All-State football player who is getting ready to graduate and enroll at Delaware State University in the fall. "Big Red," as he is known to his friends and teachers, gained the equivalent of almost 10 years in his reading ability since he started high school. Thanks to his hard work in READ 180 and his partnership with his teacher, Michael is now an honor roll student and is destined for success, whether on the football field, in the classroom, or in the career of his choice. " Football and my education are going to take me somewhere," he said.
- Afnan Khan Age 16 – Grade: 10 – Minuteman Technical High School, Lexington, MA Originally born and raised in Pakistan, Afnan and her family moved to the United States with hopes for a more stable lifestyle and a quality education. While she started far below grade level, Afnan adjusted to American culture and persevered in her reading goals despite language barriers. Today, she is on the fast track to becoming a proficient reader by the end of the school year. " Now with READ 180, I understand more of what I am reading. I feel confident with my answers," said Afnan. " I am not nervous to read aloud in class." Afnan's determination and hard work have transformed her confidence, inspiring her to study Spanish and receive acceptance into her school's Health Occupations program with the hope of one day becoming a pediatrician.
- Darline Manfred Age 15 – Grade: 11 – Westerly High School, Westerly, RI Prior to moving to the United States, Darline never had any formal schooling in her birthplace, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. After the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake, Darline arrived in Westerly, RI, reading far below grade level. But, because of her resilience and thirst for knowledge, she overcame the challenge of being an English language learner in a new country and excelled academically, improving her reading by the equivalent of five grade levels in two and a half years. " I decided to make a difference for myself by working hard every day and learning how to be successful in my READ 180 class," explained Darline. Her academic confidence led her to playing on the school volleyball team, and she would like to one day return to her homeland to inspire other Haitian children to develop a similar passion for reading.
- Jesus Pantoja Age 10 – Grade: 5 – Marvine Elementary School, Bethlehem, PA Jesus moved to Bethlehem from Puerto Rico when he was four years old. As a native Spanish-speaker, language barriers made it difficult for him to master reading and writing in English. In his fifth-grade year, he was enrolled in System 44 , and then everything changed for him. In four short months, Jesus was reading on a 4 th grade level. " System 44 made reading a lot easier," Jesus said. "When I read out loud in class I don't feel nervous like I used to. System 44 has made me love reading." His teacher, Scott Toonder noted, "Jesus' transformation has been amazing in so many ways, but perhaps the most striking change is in his attitude toward reading."
- Matthew Schultz Age 18 – Grade: 12 – Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School, Burnt Hills, NY Matt Schultz is well known in his community as a high school student campaigning for a seat on the local school board, a soon-to-be graduate who will be attending college in the fall and aspires to be a lawyer. But the back story is how in the last two years he has overcome severe reading difficulties and dyslexia to become the confident, high-achieving student he is today. As a junior, he had difficulty reading out loud and lacked some basic phonics skills that made reading hard. And without strong reading skills, succeeding in any class was a challenge. But through hard work in his school's System 44 intervention program, Matt made huge academic and emotional gains. His is a story of how learning to read can give any student the confidence to reach for the stars. " I was able to overcome the dyslexia," he said. " Now I'm reading a lot more outside of class, reading bigger and longer books."
- Jamaica Williams Age 10 – Grade: 5 – Temperance-Kutner Elementary School, Fresno, CA By the time she reached fourth grade, Jamaica found herself reading far below grade level. In fifth grade, she began System 44, and has been making steady gains ever since. "Before System 44, I wasn't really reading my books. I rushed through and I really didn't understand the words that were in them," said Jamaica. "After System 44, I read my book six times. I knew the words and I took my time. On my quizzes, I got 100%!" As the oldest child in her family, Jamaica plays a prominent role in the upbringing of her three siblings. Despite all obstacles, Jamaica is known for her upbeat and positive spirit in the classroom, on the cheer team and in the school choir. Jamaica is well on her way to her goal of reading on grade level.
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