NEW YORK, April 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL), the global children's publishing, education and media company, is excited to recognize 12 outstanding students in grades 4–12 who, through their unwavering determination and with support from their dedicated teachers, have overcome obstacles to make impressive reading gains and set themselves on a path to academic success. How did these exceptional students significantly improve their reading abilities and develop newfound self-confidence? They were enrolled in either READ 180® or System 44®— the leading systems proven to raise reading achievement for struggling readers in grades 3–12.
The 12 winners— nine READ 180 students and three System 44 students —have all had to overcome a number of personal and academic obstacles to meet their goals. From battling dyslexia to immigrating to the United States without knowing a word of English, these students were able to put their frustrations aside and build their confidence by learning to read. With the help of READ 180, System 44, and their committed teachers, these students are now on a path to college and career.
"With the demands of the Common Core State Standards, it is more important than ever that our students are proficient readers," said Margery Mayer, President of Scholastic Education. "We believe that literacy is the key to survival and success in the 21st Century, and that it enables students to succeed not only in school, but also in life. READ 180 and System 44 have created the building blocks for students to excel, and the inspiring stories and accomplishments of our All-Star Award winners speak to just how powerful a tool reading can be."
The 2013 READ 180 All-Star Award winners are:
Oksana Clay Age: 16 – Grade: 10 – Souhegan High School, Amherst, NH
Originally from Ukraine, Oksana moved to the United States not knowing any English, but over the course of the past few years, she has been able to overcome the language barrier to achieve academic and personal success. When she entered READ 180, Oksana read at a first-grade level; today, she is on the fast track to read on grade level by next year. Oksana's teacher noted, "READ 180 became a safe haven for Oksana, both socially and academically. She used that space to test waters, take risks, and to gain the confidence she needed to assimilate to the new world of high school in the United States." Thanks to all she learned in READ 180, Oksana recently passed the written component of her driver's education course.
Jake Elliott Age: 17 – Grade: 11 – Liberty High School, Liberty, MO
Before entering READ 180, Jake had been placed in various intervention programs that were not successful. In class, Jake would joke or ask to use the hall pass when his teacher would ask him a question. Through the READ 180 software, Jake was able to listen to words he didn't know, work on his vocabulary, and refine his writing. Since enrolling in READ 180, Jake went from reading at a sixth-grade level to reading at a twelfth-grade level, and no longer hides from work. Jake has graduated out of READ 180 as an advanced reader and is on track for college, where he would like to study business. "Not only did READ 180 help me with my reading, it helped me in my other classes," he said. "Because I became a better reader, my grades have improved and I am able to do my work and not just joke around in class."
Yvette Uwiragiye Age: 19 – Grade: 12 – Burlington High School, Burlington, VT
As an English language learner from Rwanda, Yvette needed intensive instruction. While in Rwanda, Yvette had a fractured school experience and limited exposure to English. She entered READ 180 as a quiet student who was insecure about her reading, writing, and speaking. Yet, despite her struggles in school, Yvette handled the transition to American society and education with grace and determination. Yvette's resolve to succeed has helped her to read more and she now enjoys reading. Today, she is able to read at a sixth-grade level. She said, "I honestly believe that READ 180 has been critical in helping me to reach my goal of going to college."
Keyon Budd Age: 13 – Grade: 8 – John Poole Middle School, Poolesville, MD
Keyon Budd, who you may recognize from ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, has also received a "reading makeover." When Keyon entered the READ 180 program, he faced challenges at home and in school. Several years ago, his aunt passed away, leaving behind ten children who joined Keyon and his three siblings in their home. In addition to adjusting to his new home life, Keyon was reading far below grade level. Through his hard work and determination, Keyon has made two years' worth of reading gains and is now reading on grade level. "My school experience has changed a lot because of READ 180," said Keyon. "Before READ 180, I never read chapter books on my own. I would just skim through them. Now, I like to read in my spare time." After high school, Keyon plans to attend college, where he would like to study to become a pediatrician.
Allyson Summerfield Age: 14 – Grade: 8 – West Virginia Children's Home School, Elkins, WV
Allyson was repeating seventh grade when she arrived at West Virginia Children's Home School, and was reading at a first-grade level. Through READ 180, Allyson has discovered her ability to learn and succeed when she applies herself. "READ 180 has changed my attitude about school," Allyson explained. "This experience has changed my grades dramatically from all F's and D's to a 3.5 G.P.A." She is now receiving A's and B's on her report card and has advanced from a first-grade reading level to a fifth-grade reading level in less than two years. Allyson wants to be the first child in her family to walk across the stage and receive her diploma.
Sequoyah Tonihka Age: 14 – Grade: 8 – Waubun High School, Waubun, MN
After taking the state standardized test for reading, Sequoyah was scored at far below proficient and was categorized as needing an intensive reading program. Thanks to his enrollment in READ 180, Sequoyah has made tremendous academic gains in all his classes. With two and a half years of growth, and now reading on grade level, Sequoyah has graduated out of READ 180 and is enrolled in all regular education classes, earning A's and B's. "His greatest accomplishment was graduating from READ 180," noted Sequoyah's teacher. "This year is a whole different world for Sequoyah as he seems to walk taller, has a bigger smile, and has the best grades he's ever had."
Karen Alvarado Age: 9 – Grade: 4 – West Central Elementary School, Joplin, MO
When Karen moved to the United States from Mexico a year and a half ago, she didn't speak a word of English. With only two years of READ 180 instruction, Karen is reading above her fourth-grade peers at a fifth-grade level. Karen noted, "Before I was in READ 180, I didn't read at all at home. Now, I can't sleep at night without reading. READ 180 changed my life!"Karen's new skills have enabled her to help her cousins improve their reading and spelling as well; her goal is to keep working hard in school so that one day she can get a good job and earn money to support her family. Of Karen's achievements, her teacher wrote, "Karen has the confidence now to live her dream, even though she is in elementary school. She knows now that she can do whatever she wants to do with her life because she has found success, which she says comes from READ 180!"
Emmett Infante Age: 11 – Grade: 6 – Doyle Elementary School, Doylestown, PA
Once described as withdrawn, Emmett found a new sense of self-confidence through READ 180 and has gone from being a struggling reader himself to giving support to peers who are performing at a lower level. Now reading on grade level, Emmett has shown three years of growth since being enrolled in the READ 180 program two years ago. His teachers speak highly of how hard he works to do his best. With his positive outlook and determination, Emmett has gotten involved with extracurricular activities like basketball and the school safety program. "READ 180 has changed my school experience," wrote Emmett.
Keily Ortiz Age: 10 – Grade: 4 – Dane Barse Elementary School, Vineland, NJ
When she started third grade, Keily struggled so much with reading that homework would often take her three to four hours to complete. Raised in a primarily Spanish-speaking home, Keily never gave up on her desire to read and write in English. Now fluent, Keily often translates for her parents and helps her cousins with their reading and homework. By improving her reading and strengthening her writing skills and vocabulary, Keily is on track to become grade-level proficient. With her newfound writing ability, she produces stories that reflect her love of pets and her career goal of becoming a veterinarian. "Keily has gone from a student who rarely volunteered to an enthusiastic participant," said Keily's teacher.
The 2013 System 44 All-Star Award winners are:
Nazem Elakesh Age: 11 – Grade: 5 – Lisa J. Mails Elementary School, Murrieta, CA
Graduating out of System 44 was a tremendous accomplishment for Nazem, who started the program two years ago as a quiet student who struggled with reading, writing, and spelling. Today, Nazem continues to grow in his reading and is on a path to reach grade level in less than a year. "When my teacher told me that I passed, I was so happy. It was the first thing I told my mom and dad when I got home from school that day," Nazem said. His enthusiasm is contagious: as a result of his success in System 44, Nazem has become much more invested in his education and has even enrolled in the Science Club to further develop his interest in science experiments. He aspires to be a professional basketball player, but thinks college is a good idea and is focused on continuing his journey to improve his skills and abilities.
Daniel Guerrero Age: 11 – Grade: 4 – Beacon Hill Elementary School, San Antonio, TX
Daniel went into System 44 certain that he'd hate it; however, since beginning the program in January 2012, Daniel's reading level has increased by two years, now putting him above the class average. Daniel says that System 44 has helped him to love books. In fact, he read 30 books in a year, and has set a personal goal to read all of the books in the System 44 program. "The System 44 books have become a comfort to him and he goes to them when he feels angry or down on himself," noted Daniel's teacher. His newfound love of reading has helped him feel empowered and has given him more self-confidence.
Eduardo Lopez Soriano Age: 10 – Grade: 5 – Lakewood School, Carpentersville, IL
Originally from Mexico, Eduardo's first language was Spanish, and when he was initially enrolled in the System 44 program he had great trouble with his placement test. While struggling to read and learn English, Eduardo also had difficulties with his speech. After his experience in System 44, he can now read at a third-grade level and was nominated to represent his class at the Service-Learning Youth Leadership Conference because of his excitement about learning, his leadership qualities, and his respect for others. Eduardo's teacher stated, "Eduardo started the year standing out because he struggled in English. Now, he stands out because he radiates determination and success in everything he sets his mind to and works to achieve."