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EPS Literacy and Intervention Announces 2014 S.P.I.R.E. Awards, Honoring Students for Great Gains in Reading

By Abi Mandelbaum
September 11th, 2014

S.P.I.R.E. Teacher of the Year Award Recognizes Dedicated Elementary Educator

GREENVILLE, Wisconsin (Sept. 10, 2014) – EPS Literacy and Intervention, a division of School Specialty, Inc., today announced the winners of its 2014 S.P.I.R.E.® (Specialized Program Individualizing Reading Excellence) Awards, which honor students who have overcome significant challenges to improve their reading proficiency, as well as the teachers who go above and beyond every day to ensure that all their students have the opportunity to improve their skills.

“To see the dedication and determination of these students to gain mastery over reading is awe-inspiring and truly makes it difficult to choose just one student for recognition, as they are all deserving of our admiration,” said Rick Holden, president, EPS. “We are honored to shine a spotlight on the students and teachers chosen as the recipients of the 2014 S.P.I.R.E. Awards to showcase the amazing strides happening in classrooms around the country.”

The 2014 S.P.I.R.E. Super Star of the Year is Tiffany, a fourth-grader at Pentucket Lake Elementary School in Haverhill, Massachusetts, who is an English Language Learner. Her teacher, Kristin Grenier, said, “I could tell she just wanted to learn how to read, and with her hard work and perseverance, she has. She worked in a small reading group daily with the S.P.I.R.E. reading program. She loved it, even though it was hard for her. With her hard work and determination, she is now starting Level 3 of the program. I’m very proud of her!”

Tiffany will receive a $100 gift card to Amazon.com, where she can find books to read during the upcoming school year.

The 2014 S.P.I.R.E. Teacher of the Year, a dedicated educator who goes “above and beyond” to help students overcome challenges, is Elizabeth Holloman from Brandon High School in Brandon, Florida. In nominating her, Karina Streeter, the school’s reading coach, said Holloman has mastered the ability to make each rotation “meaningful, monitored, and relevant” and that through S.P.I.R.E., her students have shown consistent growth. Holloman will receive a $100 gift card to Amazon.com and a $350 gift certificate to be used toward the purchase of materials from EPS.

The students honored as 2014 S.P.I.R.E. Super Star finalists are:

Zandaja, fourth grade, LaFayette Elementary School, Kipling, North Carolina
Zandaja’s teacher, Stacie Wood, said while Zandaja is shy, S.P.I.R.E. has given her tremendous confidence in the classroom. She now enjoys learning and tries her best, even when she isn’t feeling well. Zandaja began the school year reading at a second-grade level but has quickly progressed to Level 4. As Wood said, “I’m looking forward to continuing S.P.I.R.E. with her next year – the possibilities with her are endless!”

Jose, ninth grade, Brandon High School, Brandon, Florida
When Jose started working with S.P.I.R.E., he was reading at a low seventh-grade level and wasn’t confident in his ability to improve his skills. However, according to his teacher, through hard work and pure determination, Jose’s Lexile scores jumped from 750 to 1245 in just one school year, and he has become a shining example for his other classmates who may be struggling. He has become much more confident in the classroom and volunteers to help other students overcome their own challenges.

The educators honored as 2014 S.P.I.R.E. Teacher of Excellence finalists are:

Aimee Stevens, reading teacher, Lennard High School, Ruskin, Florida
Stevens has found a creative and highly visual way to incorporate S.P.I.R.E into the classroom by utilizing the popular building blocks game, JENGA®. Stevens uses the blocks to show students where they may have gaps in their knowledge and how S.P.I.R.E. can help them fill in the holes to build a solid reading foundation. Stevens regularly holds data chats with her students to show them how far S.P.I.R.E. has helped them to progress, as well as to set goals and quickly identify any weaknesses.

Marguerite Pryor, reading interventionist, Liberty Elementary School, Franklin, Tennessee
Pryor was so enthusiastic about S.P.I.R.E. that she began developing lesson plans as soon as the boxes of materials were unpacked. Her excitement was contagious, as her students easily advanced several levels in the program during the school year and more importantly, enjoy coming to class to learn. Pryor’s colleagues call her a “S.P.I.R.E cheerleader.”

To read the nominations of these outstanding students and teachers, visit: http://epsbooks.com/other/SPIRE_awards/2014

S.P.I.R.E. is a comprehensive and multisensory reading intervention program that integrates phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, spelling and comprehension in a 10-step lesson plan especially designed for struggling readers. S.P.I.R.E. has been used throughout the country with great success by thousands of students who need a direct, systematic and sequential approach to reading. Based on the Orton-Gillingham approach, S.P.I.R.E. is now in its third edition, which incorporates the most recent research regarding best practices in reading and language arts instruction. The program incorporates many opportunities for practice, ensuring students experience continuous and visible success. S.P.I.R.E.’s 120 Illustrated Decodable Readers are now available in eBook, as well as in print. Learn more at http://epsbooks.com/SPIRE.

About EPS Literacy and Intervention
EPS Literacy and Intervention provides K–12 blended-media solutions that build core skills and close the achievement gap in reading and math. With powerful instructional tools and high-quality materials, the company’s reading and math intervention solutions are proven to help struggling students. From universal screening to interventions, progress-monitoring to data-driven decision-making, and professional development, EPS offers an integrated approach to effective teaching and learning.

For more information on EPS and its proven programs Wordly Wise 3000®, Academy of READING®, Academy of MATH®, MCI, S.P.I.R.E.®, Path Driver for Reading™, Path Driver for Math™, Explode The Code® and EPS E.P.I.C., visit http://epsbooks.com.

About School Specialty
School Specialty is a leading distributor of innovative and proprietary products, programs and services to the education marketplace. The Company designs, develops, and provides educators with the latest and very best school supplies, furniture and both curriculum and supplemental learning resources. Working in collaboration with educators, School Specialty reaches beyond the scope of textbooks to help teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators ensure that every student reaches his or her full potential. For more information about School Specialty, visit www.schoolspecialty.com.

Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Information
Any statements made in this press release about School Specialty’s future financial conditions, results of operations, expectations, plans, or prospects, including the information under the headings “Process Improvement Program Update” and “Financial Outlook”, constitute forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements also include those preceded or followed by the words “anticipates,” “believes,” “could,” “estimates,” “expects,” “intends,” “may,” “plans,” “projects,” “should,” “targets” and/or similar expressions. These forward-looking statements are based on School Specialty’s current estimates and assumptions and, as such, involve uncertainty and risk. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results may differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements because of a number of factors, including the factors described in Item 1A of School Specialty’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended April 26, 2014, which factors are incorporated herein by reference. Any forward-looking statement in this release speaks only as of the date in which it is made. Except to the extent required under the federal securities laws, School Specialty does not intend to update or revise the forward-looking statements.

About the Author:

Abi Mandelbaum

Abi Mandelbaum is CEO of YouVisit.