Thirteen students become reading All-Stars

Alexandra Wladich  //  Apr 28, 2014

Thirteen students become reading All-Stars

It is my favorite time of year. It's All-Star time! The Scholastic READ 180 and System 44 All-Star Awards were created to honor struggling students who have learned to read despite difficult odds. The 2014 All-Star Award winners are a testament that it is never too late to catch up and become a successful student. With the help of their dedicated teachers and the reading intervention programs READ 180 and System 44 these students are truly all-stars!

Below are the System 44 and READ 180 elementary school winners. Visit our education blog, frizzle, to view the READ 180 middle school and high school winners.

The 2014 System 44 All-Star Award winners are:

Jesus Pantoja, Age 10 – Grade: 5 – Marvine Elementary School, Bethlehem, PA

Jesus moved to Bethlehem from Puerto Rico when he was four years old. As a native Spanish-speaker, language barriers made it difficult for him to master reading and writing in English. In his fifth-grade year, he was enrolled in System 44, and then everything changed for him. In four short months, Jesus was reading on a 4th grade level. System 44 made reading a lot easier,” Jesus said. “When I read out loud in class I don’t feel nervous like I used to. System 44 has made me love reading.” His teacher, Scott Toonder noted, “Jesus’ transformation has been amazing in so many ways, but perhaps the most striking change is in his attitude toward reading.”


Matthew Schultz, Age 18 – Grade: 12 – Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School, Burnt Hills, NY

Matt Schultz is well known in his community as a high school student campaigning for a seat on the local school board, a soon-to-be graduate who will be attending college in the fall and aspires to be a lawyer. But the back story is how in the last two years he has overcome severe reading difficulties and dyslexia to become the confident, high-achieving student he is today. As a junior, he had difficulty reading out loud and lacked some basic phonics skills that made reading hard. And without strong reading skills, succeeding in any class was a challenge. But through hard work in his school’s System 44 intervention program, Matt made huge academic and emotional gains. His is a story of how learning to read can give any student the confidence to reach for the stars. “I was able to overcome the dyslexia,” he said. “Now I’m reading a lot more outside of class, reading bigger and longer books.”


Jamaica Williams, Age 10 – Grade: 5 – Temperance-Kutner Elementary School, Fresno, CA

By the time she reached fourth grade, Jamaica found herself reading far below grade level. In fifth grade, she began System 44, and has been making steady gains ever since. “Before System 44, I wasn’t really reading my books. I rushed through and I really didn’t understand the words that were in them,” said Jamaica. “After System 44, I read my book six times. I knew the words and I took my time. On my quizzes, I got 100%!” As the oldest child in her family, Jamaica plays a prominent role in the upbringing of her three siblings. Despite all obstacles, Jamaica is known for her upbeat and positive spirit in the classroom, on the cheer team and in the school choir. Jamaica is well on her way to her goal of reading on grade level.


Elementary School

 Michaela Bowser, Age 11 – Grade: 5 – Baker Elementary School, Altoona, PA

Having been homeschooled through the third grade, Michaela entered Baker Elementary School as a fourth-grader with an infectious enthusiasm for learning, but as a beginning reader. It’s now one year later, and Michaela has closed gaps in phonics and surpassed her goals. With hard work and support from her teachers and family, she is now closer than ever to being on grade level. “Due largely to her participation and success in the READ 180 program, Michaela now has many aspirations for her future,” noted her teacher. “In addition to attending a trade school, Michaela wishes to play volleyball professionally. Not only has she been practicing her skills, she has been reading books about the sport to learn as much as she can.”


Dalton West, Age 11 – Grade: 5 – Canton Elementary STEM Academy, Canton, GA

Today, Dalton loves to read so much that he can often be found reading books for fun at home while other kids are playing video games. But reading wasn’t always fun for him. Before starting READ 180, Dalton was two years below grade level in reading. Also, health challenges forced Dalton and his family to make repeated trips between Georgia and Ohio for treatment. But he always remained motivated to succeed. Passionate about his education, Dalton continued his studies through theuse of e-readers. Inspired by the men and women who have served him during his hospitalization, Dalton wants to give back with a career in the medical field. “Dalton is making the connection between his studies and his future hopes and dreams,” said his teacher, Robert Howland. “His positive example makes him a true role model for other students.”


Caleb Yamaguchi, Age 11 – Grade: 6 – Sakamoto Elementary School, San Jose, CA

Two years ago, at the beginning of his fourth grade year, Caleb struggled with many of the building blocks of reading (decoding, sound-symbol connections and phonics) because of a learning disability that added to the challenge of learning to read. After two years in intervention programs, first System 44 and then READ 180, Caleb has quickly improved his reading skills, jumping the equivalent of three grade levels in his reading ability. A crowning achievement for him was reading Hatchet, a grade-level text, along with the rest of his classmates. “It was hard, but I had to read it on my own,” he said. His teacher says he is now a leader in the classroom and on the football field, where he dreams of becoming an NFL star.

For more information on the 2014 winners please visit our media room for the full press release