Awards Honor Students Who Overcame Challenges to Build Reading and Math Skills and Dedicated Teachers Chosen for Excellence

GREENVILLE, Wis. – June 18, 2012 – EPS/School Specialty’s Literacy and Intervention division today announced the winners of its 2012 Academy Star Awards, honoring students who have overcome significant challenges to build proficiency in reading and math, as well as teachers who go above and beyond on a daily basis to provide their students with every opportunity to succeed. Five students were recognized as Academy Star Students of the Year, and three teachers earned Academy Teachers of Excellence honors.

“I am amazed and inspired to learn about these hard-working students who, even in adversity, achieve great success,” said Rick Holden, President, EPS/School Specialty. “And the teacher nominations represent the thousands of talented educators across the country devoted to making sure their students have the opportunity to succeed. It is a privilege to honor these students and teachers with the 2012 Academy Star Awards.”

Students recognized for their progress in building skills using the Academy of READING are:

Montasir Al Ferdous, Whitehall-Yearling High School, Whitehall, Ohio
Montasir Al Ferdous is a ninth-grader who moved to Ohio from Bangladesh less than two years ago. The nomination from his English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, Sara Levitt, detailed how he began the school year scoring at the second-grade level on the Academy of READING pre-test and by April achieved a ninth-grade-level score. In fact, Levitt said his progress has been so significant that it is unlikely he will be in an ESL class next school year.

Kaitlyn Johnson, Waterloo Junior High School, Waterloo, Ill.
Kaitlyn Johnson is a seventh-grader who was nominated by her teacher Jane Nold for her significant progress in learning with the Academy of READING, moving from below grade level in her skills to level 10 in just two years.

Ernest Harris, Holly Ridge Middle School, Holly Springs, N.C.
Ernie Harris was born in the Ukraine and, when adopted at the age of 11 by an American couple, was reading only minimally in Russian and did not speak any English. Nominated by Valita Papes, his intervention reading teacher, Ernie is honored for his diligent work at mastering 68 of the 75 required skills and for his significant progress in building both verbal and written English language skills.

Students recognized for their progress using the Academy of MATH are:

Shemar Douglas, River Oaks Middle School, Raleigh, N.C.
Shemar Douglas, a seventh-grader, was nominated by his math teacher, Jennifer Costin, for the progress he made learning with the Academy of MATH, moving from below grade level to exceeding his grade level in just five months.

Michael Manley, Quail Valley Elementary School, Missouri City, Texas
Michael Manley, a fifth-grader who earned 67 certificates this year, was nominated by his resource math teacher, Barbara London, for his hard work in building skills with the Academy of MATH.

This year’s Academy Teachers of Excellence honors go to Mary Adele Byrd, Forrest County Agricultural High School, Brooklyn, Miss.; and Stevonia Dixon, Chamberlain High School, Hillsborough County Public Schools, Tampa, Fla., for their work teaching with the Academy of READING; and Helen Engelbrecht, St. Vincent de Paul School, Peoria, Ill., for her Academy of MATH teaching efforts.

With more than 50 years of experience in working with districts across the country to implement reading and math intervention programs, EPS/School Specialty offers research-based Response to Intervention solutions that are proven effective with a wide range of struggling students, including those in Tiers 1, 2 and 3 in Special Education, and English Language Learners. The company’s online intervention solutions, Academy of READING and Academy of MATH, meet the efficacy quality standards for research set out by the U.S. Department of Education “What Works Clearinghouse.”

About School Specialty, Inc.
School Specialty is a leading education company that provides innovative and proprietary products, programs and services to help educators engage and inspire students of all ages and abilities to learn. The company designs, develops and provides preK-12 educators with the latest and very best curriculum, supplemental learning resources and school supplies. 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.

Accelerated Learning’s major products include: Wordly Wise 3000®, Premier™ Agenda, Delta Education™, FOSS®, CPO Science™, Frey Scientific®, Educator’s Publishing Service, Academy of READING®, Think Math!™, MCI, S.P.I.R.E.® and SPARK™. Educational Resources proprietary brands include: Education Essentials®, Sportime®, Childcraft®, Sax® Arts & Crafts, Califone®, abc®, Abilitations®, School Smart®, Classroom Select™ and Projects by Design®.

For more information about EPS (School Specialty Literacy and Intervention), visit or


About the Author: