Honoring students for outstanding academic success

 //  Apr 28, 2014

Honoring students for outstanding academic success

Through the work we do here at Scholastic, I am constantly reminded of the increasing number of obstacles to learning that many students face -- from learning disabilities to language barriers to poverty.

And every year at this time, when we name our READ 180 and System 44 All-Star Award winners, I'm reminded that it is never too late to catch up and become a successful student. With the help of their dedicated teachers, these students are truly all-stars!

Below are the READ 180 middle school and high school winners.  Visit On Our Minds, to view the System 44 and READ 180 elementary school winners.

Middle School

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 8th 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 6th-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 use 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.

High School

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 8th 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.