EPS Literacy and Intervention Announces 2016 S.P.I.R.E. Awards

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Awards Honor Students for Gains in Reading, Teachers for Commitment, Excellence in the Classroom

EPS Literacy and Intervention, a division of School Specialty, Inc. (OTCQB: SCOO), today announced the winners of its 2016 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 every student has the opportunity to improve their reading and comprehension skills.

The 2016 S.P.I.R.E. Super Star of the Year is Knyasia, a fifth-grader at Northwood Elementary School in Baltimore. When Knyasia entered Carolyn Razon-Fernandez’s self-contained class as a fourth-grader, she had been diagnosed with a learning disability and was reading at a 1st grade level. Initially, Knyasia had trouble reading more than a few sentences at a time and her assessments showed reading fluency of 16 words per minute (WPM) of grade-level text with 76 percent accuracy. She currently reads 5th grade level texts at 77 WPM with 97 percent accuracy. Razon-Fernandez credits S.P.I.R.E. for Knyasia’s turnaround, saying the program gave her the tools to read and comprehend stories without intensive teacher support. Knyasia can interact with text in numerous ways and is also able to apply the strategies she’s learned with S.P.I.R.E. to other academic subjects. Knyasia’s confidence has grown so much, she now enjoys participating in class, often asking if she can read aloud or if she can choose a book to read during free time. Knyasia says S.P.I.R.E. is, “fun and made me like reading . . . it’s not like I’m learning to read . . . I’m just reading and enjoying every minute of it!”

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

The 2016 S.P.I.R.E. Teacher of the Year is Meera Shinn, an exceptional children’s teacher at Southern Pines Elementary School in Southern Pines, North Carolina. In nominating her, Laura Dendy, the school’s exceptional children’s program specialist, called Shinn, “exemplary,” noting that as a result of S.P.I.R.E., her students have gained more than 200 points on the Scholastic Reading Inventory Lexile. Shinn is known for celebrating her student’s growth with constant encouragement and motivation, resulting in a highly focused and engaged classroom. Shinn 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 2016 S.P.I.R.E. Super Star finalists are:
Sarah Grace, fifth grade, Landmark Christian School, Fairburn, Georgia
Sarah Grace began working with S.P.I.R.E as a first grader. As she struggled with reading and comprehension, her teacher Nicole Daniel, a learner support specialist at the school, worked with her through multiple levels of S.P.I.R.E. This past spring, Sarah Grace’s assessments showed she scored a grade equivalent score of 7.7 in reading. Daniel says it was Sarah Grace’s positive attitude and strong work ethic that propelled her to complete challenging class assignments and gain mastery over reading. “Sarah Grace never gives up and often welcomes a challenge,” says Daniel. “Her positive attitude, even in the face of difficulty, is an immensely admirable asset. I'm confident that she will continue to demonstrate the same diligence, perseverance, and optimism in the coming years.”

Grace, fifth grade, Evart Elementary School, Evart, Michigan
After some early struggles with basic reading skills, with the encouragement of Deb Tomich, resource room teacher at Evart Elementary, Gracie started the new school year with a newfound confidence and determination to work harder than ever. She participates in two S.P.I.R.E. groups and can now decode and blend unknown words. Gracie has progressed to reading level one stories independently and correctly answering comprehension questions. Gracie says the S.P.I.R.E. reading lessons, “helped me learn to read!”

The educators honored as 2016 S.P.I.R.E. Teacher of Excellence finalists are:
Ramona Briones-Mosely, special education teacher, McKinley Elementary School, Farmington, New Mexico
For the past four years, Briones-Mosely has found engaging and creative ways to incorporate S.P.I.R.E. into her classroom. During S.P.I.R.E. lessons, students sit in a semi-circle around the whiteboard Briones-Mosely uses in class to model the lesson plans. Briones-Mosely calls students to the work at the whiteboard and the group setting encourages engagement and teamwork, while furthering their multi-sensory skills. Briones-Mosely uses S.P.I.R.E.’s progress monitoring and record-keeping tools to ensure her students are moving at a pace that will lead to content mastery. Her students have made great gains in reading each year and her enthusiasm and innovative teaching strategies continue to promote excellence in the classroom. In fact, Briones-Mosely’s comfort with classroom technology has resulted in her piloting EPS’ iSPIRE™, an interactive reading intervention program designed to accelerate literacy skill development for the lowest performing students in grades PreK-8.

Mally Edmiston, special education teacher, Mesa Verde Elementary School, Farmington, New Mexico
An enthusiastic supporter of S.P.I.R.E. for the past five years, Edmiston uses the program’s ten-step lessons to teach special needs students in grades 3-5. His colleague, Cynthia Bader, says, “It is not unusual to see students working in Levels 6 and 7 of S.P.I.R.E. It is clear that his students understand the background knowledge, phonetic rules and strategies for decoding that enable them to be successful at these advanced levels.” Edmiston also trains his peers around the district in S.P.I.R.E. best practices. Bader says Edmiston’s mission is to empower his students with the tools and knowledge they need to be successful readers. In addition to mastering decoding and syllabication, Edmiston’s students have also gained proficiency in the close comprehension and vocabulary strategies that will guide them to future academic success.

To read the nominations of these outstanding students and teachers, visit: http://eps.schoolspecialty.com/resources/awards/announcing-spire-super-star-awards-2016

S.P.I.R.E. is a comprehensive and multisensory reading intervention program that integrates phonological awareness, phonics, spelling, fluency, vocabulary, 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. 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, 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
L. Wolfe Communications
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