EPS Literacy and Intervention Announces 2015 S.P.I.R.E. Award Winners, Recognizing Student Achievement in Building Literacy Skills

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

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EPS Literacy and Intervention, a division of School Specialty, Inc., today announced the winners of its 2015 S.P.I.R.E.® Awards, honoring students who have overcome significant challenges to improve their reading proficiency, as well as the teachers who go the extra mile every day to guarantee their students have the opportunity to improve their literacy skills. 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.

“It is an honor and privilege to recognize the determination of these students as they strive to build the literacy skills vital for success in school and life. Reading the stories of how they faced their obstacles head-on and surpassed expectations makes choosing just one student a challenge – they all are winners,” said Bodie Marx, senior vice president and general manager of School Specialty Curriculum. “We are proud to celebrate the achievements of our 2015 S.P.I.R.E. Award winners.”

The 2015 S.P.I.R.E. Super Star of the Year is Kimberly, a fourth-grader at Liberty Elementary School in Franklin, Tennessee. As a native Spanish speaker, Kimberly faced several challenges with her reading progress. When she was placed in a Tier 3 S.P.I.R.E. reading intervention group at the start of the school year, Kimberly was reading at the 18th percentile. By the end of the school year, she had jumped to the 33rd percentile. Her teacher, Marguerite Pryor, said S.P.I.R.E. gave Kimberly a newfound awareness of phonemes, vocabulary. and sentence structure and through independent study, she has reached her goals for the year. “She has become so aware of how words are spelled and pronounced,” Pryor said when nominating Kimberly for the award. “Because her vocabulary has increased, her comprehension has also improved significantly. I am so very proud of Kimberly’s growth!” Kimberly will receive a $100 gift card to Amazon.com, where she can find books to read during the summer.

As the 2015 S.P.I.R.E. Teacher of the Year, Tracy Miller of Plainview Primary School in Tar Heel, North Carolina, is known for her energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to her students. Many of her students demonstrated two years of reading growth during the course of one school year. In nominating her, Rena Jessup, an exceptional children teacher at the school, said Miller is a compassionate, highly motivated go-getter, noting she was able to turn a non-reader into a reader with S.P.I.R.E. Jessup said, “If Tracy could teach S.P.I.R.E. 24/7, she would do it. Students couldn’t wait to get to class, because she helped them travel a path to success with S.P.I.R.E.” Miller will receive a $100 gift card to Amazon.com and a $350 gift certificate to use toward the purchase of materials from EPS.

The students honored as 2015 S.P.I.R.E. Super Star finalists are:
Damien, fourth grade, Liberty Elementary School, Franklin, Tennessee
When Damien began the school year, he had reading comprehension obstacles to overcome and according to his teachers, April Harper and Jeannette Abbott, he felt defeated and lacked the motivation to work toward making gains in reading. He was placed in a Tier-3 S.P.I.R.E. program and the change was remarkable. Damien began the school year reading at 54 words-per-minute (WPM); by the middle of the year, he had increased his speed to 107 WPM. Damien’s success cultivated an insatiable love of reading and improved his confidence in other academic subjects. By the end of the school year, Damien had increased his reading fluency by 92 percent. Harper and Abbott call Damien, “an inspiration.”

Roman, fourth grade, Angier Elementary School, Angier, North Carolina
Diagnosed with a learning disability, Roman was discouraged and had very little confidence in his reading ability. He was able to read independently at a first grade level and about 45 WPM at a second grade level. In 2014, Roman began work with S.P.I.R.E. three times a week during summer school and twice a week when school started. He started at Level 1 and 10 months later, was proficient in Level 4. Roman began to earn As and Bs, which placed him on the honor roll for the first time in his academic career. He now holds the highest grade point average in his reading class and no longer requires daily reading intervention.

The educators honored as 2015 S.P.I.R.E. Teacher of Excellence finalists are:

Jessica McInnis, exceptional children’s teacher, Covington Street Elementary, Laurinburg, North Carolina
McInnis is hailed by her fellow educators for her ability to use technology and creativity in implementing S.P.I.R.E, into the classroom. She incorporates a Smart Board into the curriculum and ongoing assessment drives instruction, allowing her to help her students successfully master each level. When nominating McInnis, literacy coach Laura Britt said, “Jessica’s knowledge of S.P.I.R.E. is unmatched. Her attention to detail and fidelity of the program have been key to the success she has had with it. Above all is her care and concern for her students. She works tirelessly to ensure S.P.I.R.E. truly meets the needs of her students.”

Stacie Wood, exceptional children’s lead teacher, Lafayette Elementary School, Kipling, North Carolina
Known as the “S.P.I.R.E. Guru,” Wood’s love of learning is the foundation of a S.P.I.R.E. program that is popular and well-respected. Educators from schools in and around the area come to observe Wood teach the program and learn more about her methods. Fellow teacher Sarah Fiero, who nominated Wood, said, “Stacie is always willing to go that extra mile to help a teacher be more successful with the program. The level of confidence the program has instilled in her students is phenomenal! Through her use of the program, her students have progressed from struggling readers to confident readers who can quickly and successfully decode words. S.P.I.R.E. and Stacie Wood have given children at our school the priceless gift of the love of reading.”    

To read the nominations of these outstanding students and teachers, visit: http://epsbooks.com/other/SPIRE_awards/2015

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 includes many opportunities for practice, ensuring students experience continuous and visible success. 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®, EPS Customized Learning, and more, visit http://epsbooks.com.

About School Specialty, Inc.
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 http://www.schoolspecialty.com.

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Shaun Wiley
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