• The Spark

Nine Students Are Recognized by Their Teachers and Honored by HMH for Academic and Reading Achievement

Author:  The Spark Staff  | 05/18/2017

Congratulations to these nine 2017 180 Student Awards READ 180 winners being honored by their schools and by HMH for their outstanding academic achievement and growth in reading. With the help of dedicated teachers and their hard work in READ 180, the students celebrated here have overcome challenges and become passionate learners who are also helping and inspiring their peers.

Serenity Steele


Name: Serenity Steele
School: Cecil Floyd Elementary School, Joplin, MO
Teacher: Brian Bandy
Grade: 4
Nominated for: READ 180



How READ 180 has helped:
“My mind and attitude changed toward reading because READ 180 helped me read big words. I feel great about reading now. I have faced a lot of challenges. I feel like I can achieve my goals, since I have two parents who love, support, and encourage me to be the best I can be.”

What her teacher says:
“Serenity has worked extremely hard this year and graduated out of READ 180 and moved back to her general education classroom. She has been a very motivated student and is becoming a role model for other students. After she graduated, she wrote her READ 180 classmates a letter: ‘Dear Class, I know how hard you work. Keep it up!’”

Serenity’s goals for the future:
“I will need to use the reading skills I’ve learned so I can graduate high school and then go to college to become a pediatrician. I want to help other children and babies.”

Ninel Marcos Lara



Name: Ninel Marcos Lara
School: Glyndale Elementary School, Brunswick, GA
Teacher: Kimberly Waters
Grade: 5
Nominated for: READ 180



How READ 180 has made a difference:
“People used to say that READ 180 was boring but for me it was going to change my life. It helps me see that I’m getting better little by little. Also, that reading and spelling can help me in the future.”

What her teacher says:
“Ninel has gone from being the shy girl who could not speak much English and could not read, to now being the girl who is helping other students in my class who are struggling.”

Ninel’s goals for the future:
“I don’t know yet, but now I know that I can be anything that I want to be!”

Meleny Cedillo



Name: Meleny Cedillo
School: Bryant Elementary School, Arlington, TX
Teacher: Michelle Webb
Grade: 6
Nominated for: READ 180



How READ 180 has made a difference:
“It has helped me with my vocabulary and my grades. My grades went from Fs to Cs to Bs to As. READ 180 has let me be more confident and ready for everything.”

What her teacher says:
“Meleny is an English learner—with two different Spanish dialects spoken at home there are language barriers so there is not always academic support at home. I’ve seen her really grow in confidence as a leader on our campus. She’s joined the robotics club, she’s going to join the knitting club, and she’s a leader in an English support club after school. She’s simply an amazing, determined role model and a positive influence on everybody here at school.”

Meleny’s goals for the future:
“To help other students like me…to help them with their reading scores.”

Adama Bah



Name: Adama Bah
School: Hyde Leadership Charter School, New York, NY
Teacher: Ada Garcia
Grade: 7
Nominated for: READ 180



How READ 180 has made a difference:
“With READ 180 I learned that what matters is that you try to make yourself better…. I love to read and help out others that I know could also be struggling….Because of my growth and my grades, I am now involved in several activities such as NYC Junior Ambassador. I’m the Vice President of National Junior Honor Society, and part of the middle school’s student council.

What her teacher says:
“My favorite thing about Adama and the way she is determined to improve is her commitment to help others improve as well…Her humility is what continues to allow her to grow and what has pushed her to be the outstanding honor roll students she is today. All she needed was a boost of confidence from READ 180.

Adama’s goals for the future:
“I try to make sure I learn new vocabulary every day and try to use it when I speak. My new reading, writing and speaking skills also helped me make the debate team, and in the December competition I won 2nd place out of 130 students in the city. I am proud of myself because I saw that I was able to grow, and I will continue to grow.”

Za'Kwon Bowens



Name: Za'Kwon Bowens
School: St. Stephen Middle School, Saint Stephen, SC
Teacher: Allison Crawford
Grade: 8
Nominated for READ 180



How READ 180 has made a difference:
“When I started with READ 180 I was a Level 1 reader. Now [after six months] I’m a Level 4. READ 180 has changed me a lot. I never liked reading but now I’m reading a lot more. One of my favorite ‘eReads’ is a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. called, What Is in Your Life’s Blueprint? He delivered it to a group of middle schoolers.

What his teachers say:
“Thanks to his commitment to reading, he did not experience any summer reading loss. And for the first time since first grade, Za’Kwon is pursuing the A/B honor roll. His positive attitude and mature behavior are motivating to his peers.”

“He has really been transformed by his work in this class. He has a passion for singing, and I’ve really seen him use this momentum to help him start pursuing his passion.”

“His remarkable progress has helped our school become believers in what READ 180 can do for struggling readers.”

Za'Kwon’s goals for the future:
Za’Kwon sings for church choirs, and he hopes to spread his passion for singing and musical talent, and specifically, head an organization that invests in young people who are passionate and interested in developing their vocal and musical abilities. He plans to attend college where he wants to pursue a degree in Business Administration and Management.

Natalie Cowell



Name: Natalie Cowell
School: Anderson Junior High School, Chandler, AZ
Teacher: Carol Lynn Wood
Grade: 8
Nominated for: READ 180



How READ 180 has made a difference:
“I used to fight with my mom when she told me to read, but I enjoy reading now that I am at a higher level. Reading is less of a struggle and I can find more books I enjoy because of my higher level.”

What her teacher says:
“Natalie realized that success is measured not only by standardized tests and grades, but also by her ability to set and reach appropriately challenging goals. There is a glorious feeling when you see the pride in Natalie knowing how hard she has worked to make a complete 180 in reading.”

Natalie’s goals for the future:
“Some of my goals in life are to go to a university and then I want to go to law school. I want to be able to help people and in my opinion the best way to do that is to become a lawyer and fight for the victim.”

Cahrin



Student: Cahrin Donald
School: Elyria High School, Elyria, OH
Teacher: Frances Wondrak
Grade: 12
Nominated for: READ 180



How READ 180 has made a difference:
In her first four months on Student Reading Inventory, Cahrin’s Lexile® score jumped 4 grades. Cahrin has shown determination to sustain improvement by monitoring her individual class grades and preparing to transition out of high school. She is self-motivated and sets the bar high for herself. Cahrin does have daily challenges though. Her body is confined to a motorized wheelchair but not her mind. Using her iPhone, wheelchair joystick, and Chromebook, Cahrin communicates with the world.

What her teacher says:
“Being nonverbal and in a wheelchair hasn’t set limits on Cahrin’s ability to be successful in the READ 180 program or in her life. She is determined to reach her goal of attending college after high school with the help of the READ 180 program.”

Cahrin’s goals for the future:
“My plan when I graduate is to get audiobooks from the library to keep myself reading. Also, I plan on going to Lorain County Community College to study early childhood education.”

Xavier Pena



Name: Xavier Pena
School: Mineral Wells High School, Mineral Wells, TX
Teacher: Crystal Damron
Grade: 12
Nominated for: READ 180



How READ 180 has made a difference:
“Before READ 180 I hated to read. Because of my hearing loss, students would laugh at me. After I started the program, I realized I was reading more fluently instead of like a robot, so that made me feel good. The READ 180 program helped me pass my driver’s test—the vocabulary on the test was extremely difficult.

What his teacher says:
“I nominated Xavier because of his work ethic and determination to succeed. He has had to work harder than other students because of his hearing deficiency. I’m proud to report that he has been able to overcome that obstacle and his reading has improved by 5 grade levels.”

Xavier’s goals for the future:
“I’m getting ready to graduate—in a few months I will begin training as a locomotive engineer, where I will continue to use my READ 180 skills.”

Nooralhuda Witwit



Name: Nooralhuda Witwit
School: Grace Davis High School, Modesto, CA
Teacher: Lindsay Bird
Grade: 12
Nominated for: READ 180



How READ 180 has made a difference:
“In Iraq I always wanted to be an engineer. Now I was a teenager that was learning the alphabet. It was hard to have hope. Thanks to the Language Institute, System 44, and READ 180 I am now ready to leave for college.”

What her teacher says:
“When Noor walked into my room for her placement assessments…she immediately started to cry tears of anxiety. Now Noor’s anxiety is spent on deciding which college to attend and which type of engineer she should become.”

Nooralhuda’s goals for the future:
“I want to graduate college and become an engineer. I want other people to look at me and see that refugees deserve a chance, not all Muslims are terrorists, and through education and literacy we can all help make the world a better place.”

Read the full story on the 2017 Student 180 Awards, and watch this space for this year’s honorees in MATH 180 and System 44.


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