EPS Literacy and Intervention Honors 2014 Academy Star Award Winners

Awards Recognize Students for Significant Improvements in Reading and Math, Teachers for Dedication to Students

GREENVILLE, Wisconsin – August 13, 2014 – EPS Literacy and Intervention, a division of School Specialty, Inc. (OTCQB: SCOO) today announced the winners of its 2014 Academy Star Awards. These annual awards honor 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 improve their skills. Four students and three teachers were honored in this year’s award program

"Our most sincere congratulations go out to the 2014 Academy Star Award Winners," said Rick Holden, president, EPS. "These students have flourished after overcoming a wide range of challenges and the enthusiasm and creativity of our winning teachers helped their students come out on top. It is a tremendous honor to be able to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of these hard-working young people and the dedication of the educators who are committed to guiding them towards success."

While all nominated students receive recognition as Academy Stars, two students, Cody, a ninth grader from Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, and Olamide, a sixth grader from Missouri City Middle School in Missouri City, Texas, are the Academy Star Students of the Year and will each receive a $100 gift card.

Dedicated teachers who exceed expectations in the classroom and helped their students overcome reading and math challenges are also honored. Two educators, Samantha Webster of Dawson Elementary School, Jackson, Mississippi, and Chris Brainard of University Charter School, Lemoore, California, are the 2014 Academy Teachers of Excellence. Each will receive a $100 gift card and a $350 gift certificate for purchasing materials from EPS. Webster is honored for teaching with the Academy of READING® and Brainard is honored for teaching with the Academy of MATH®.

The students honored for their progress in building skills using the Academy of READING are:
Academy Star Student of the Year, Cody, ninth grade, Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center, Concord, North Carolina
Earlier in the school year, Cody was pre-tested to determine his reading level and was found to be reading below a basic seventh grade level. He began using the Academy of READING program and spurred on by his initial success, raised his level to ninth grade with more strides being made every day. Cody’s teacher believes the program bolstered both his academics and confidence.

Finalist, Madelyn, second grade, Madison Crossing Elementary School, Canton, Mississippi
At the start of the school year, Madelyn was reading at what was considered a below basic level for a second grader. After successfully completing 37 skill levels with the Academy of READING, Madelyn advanced 2.0 levels. Upon finishing the program, not only had she mastered 100 percent of the required skills, she discovered a love of reading and began to read books for enjoyment.

The students recognized for their progress in learning with the Academy of MATH are:

Academy Star Student of the Year, Olamide, sixth grade, Missouri Middle School, Missouri City, Texas
When Olamide began the Academy of MATH program in November 2013, his math skills were at a 1.7 level. By the time he was evaluated in April 2014, he was at a 5.5 level, an increase of 3.8 levels. Olamide’s math success has encouraged him to willingly do math problems in front of his classmates and made him eager to accelerate his incredible gains.

Finalist, Eric, third grade, Mission Glen Elementary School, Houston
When this dedicated student began the program, his math skills were at a 1.6, which was considered a below basic level for a third grader. After successfully completing 29 skills in Academy of MATH, Eric moved up 3.1 levels to achieve a skill level of 4.7. Eric’s teacher is positive that his mastery, along with his confidence, will continue to soar.

The teachers recognized for their success teaching with Academy of READING and Academy of MATH are:

Samantha Webster, Dawson Elementary School, Jackson, Mississippi
When Webster started teaching with Academy of READING, her students were either unenthusiastic about reading or weren’t reading on grade level. To make the program fun, she turned it into a competition and created the Academy Lab, where students come to learn and more importantly, to master (and in many cases, surpass) their reading and math challenges. As students master a skill, they raise their hands above their heads for the "mastery clap," which not only lets the class know he or she is making the grade, but also cheers on fellow classmates who may be struggling. Reading levels have soared and students have become so excited about their progress, they’ve informed Webster they plan to continue reading and working hard during the summer months so they’ll be ready to hit the ground running when school resumes in the fall.

Chris Brainard, University Charter School, Lemoore, California
Brainard implemented Academy of MATH at University Charter School after administrators recognized the need for a more intensive, hands-on math intervention program. Brainard worked with his colleagues to identify and assess students with gaps in their learning foundation and who could benefit most from the targeted instruction and extra math time on a daily basis. He meets with those students on a regular basis, keeping track of their ongoing progress and providing support and encouragement, helping them to increase their self-confidence and academic skills. He goes the extra mile by attending parent-teacher conferences and student study teams to provide support and progress reports. Under Brainard’s leadership, the Academy of MATH program at University Charter School is considered a signature practice and a standout intervention program.

Tracey Velotas, Academic Options Center, Canton, Mississippi
Working with students who are academically at risk, Velotas has used the Academy of READING program to help her students go from reading deficits to making significant strides towards reading excellence. She has motivated them to read at or above their grade level, establishing a rewards system that ignites healthy competition and more importantly, inspires them to succeed.

Read the nominations of these outstanding students and teachers.

The award-winning Academy of READING delivers a powerful, online intervention solution that helps struggling students achieve rapid, permanent gains in reading. Academy of READING uses a patented, research-based instructional model that builds strong roots in the five areas outlined by the National Reading Panel: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Learn more at

The Academy of MATH online intervention solution helps at-risk elementary, middle and high school students build proficiency in foundation mathematics skills. Using the same powerful adaptive intervention engine as the Academy of READING, the Academy of MATH builds skills for beginner through algebra-ready students in 10 critical content areas identified by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Learn more at

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

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

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