Student Awards

You can read the official press release here


Name: Xavier Pena

School: Mineral Wells High School 

Nominator: Crystal Damron

Grade: 12 

Nominated for: READ 180

Lexile Growth: 27% 

Xavier has a strong work ethic and determination to succeed, which is evident in school and out of the classroom. According to Xavier’s READ 180 teacher, Crystal Damron, Xavier has had to work harder than other students due to a hearing deficiency, but did not let that hold him back and has improved his reading skills by five grade levels. Xavier believes READ 180 is the reason why he passed his driver’s test, and although he thought the vocabulary on the exam was difficult, continues to work on building those skills. As Xavier finishes his senior year, he is enrolling in classes to train as a locomotive engineer where he looks forward to continuing to use his READ 180 skills. 


Name: Meleny Cedillo

School:  Bryant Elementary School, Arlington, TX

Nominator: Michelle Webb

Grade: 6

Nominated for: READ 180

Lexile Growth: 422%

Amazing, determined and positive are several ways that Meleny’s READ 180 teacher, Michelle Webb, describes her student. As an English Learner, Meleny speaks two different Spanish dialects at home, so she has been faced with overcoming a large language barrier. By embracing a growth mindset that allows her to believe she can become a better reader through hard work and practice, Meleny has exceeded her literacy growth by two grade levels over the course of two months. The confidence Meleny has gained from READ 180 has allowed her to join the robotics and she has an interest in joining a knitting club. 


Name: Nooralhuda Witwit

School: Grace M. Davis High School 

Nominator: Lindsey Bird  

Grade: 12

Nominated for: READ 180

Lexile Growth: 4,208%

Nooralhuda (Noor) arrived in California in 2012 with her family, after enduring fleeing Iraq for safety in a refugee camp. Noor’s READ 180 teacher, Lindsey Bird, says Noor had many high aspirations, but felt overwhelmed that she would not be successful in learning to read due to the language barrier. While those years caused disruption in Noor’s education, it also motivated her once she enrolled in the Language Institute in Grace M. Davis High School. In the READ 180 program, Noor saw her Lexile score significantly increase over the course of two years and is now taking college preparatory and advanced placement classes. She will attend California State University, Sacramento in the fall. 


Student: Kaitlyn Llanez

School: Spc. Rafael Hernando III Middle School

Nominator: Brenda Rios

Grade: 6

Nominated for: System 44

Lexile Growth: 44% 

At age seven, Kaitlyn was faced with significant health challenges that prevented her from attending school and because of this, her learning was impacted. Despite these obstacles, Kaitlyn persevered and returned to school prepared to work hard and meet her goals. According to Ms. Brenda Rios, Kaitlyn’s System 44 teacher, this strong sense of determination to succeed has allowed her to build a strong reading foundation, and Kaitlyn now enjoys reading books that she can understand and enjoy. Kaitlyn’s career goal to is to be a pediatric nurse for cancer patients. 


Name: Brooklyn Ramirez

School: Buchannan Elementary School  

Nominator: Tonja Lyda

Grade: 5

Nominated for: MATH 180

Lexile Growth: 92% 

Brooklyn experienced serious health conditions that resulted in her missing the first half of fourth grade. Upon her return to school, she used these significant challenges to prove to others how strong she can be. MATH 180, along with the support of her teacher Ms. Tonja Lyda, has helped Brooklyn build her math skills and overall confidence. She now takes the initiative to regularly participate in MATH 180 software at school and at home. Brooklyn’s dedication to succeed has allowed her to increase her Quantile score by 48 percent in less than seven months. 


Name: Za'Kwon Bowens

School: St. Stephen Middle School, Saint Stephen, SC

Nominator: Allison Crawford

Grade: 8

Nominated for READ 180 

Overall Lexile Growth: 134% 

Za’Kwon had been a struggling reader since first grade. Since starting READ 180, Za’Kwon’s mindset and behavior toward reading has changed. He now enjoys reading in and out of the classroom, and one of his favorite things to read is a speech Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered to a group of middle schoolers called, “What’s in your Life’s Blueprint.”  Ms. Allison Crawford, who nominated Za’Kwon for the 180 Student Awards, is proud of Za’Kwon for his Lexile growth, as well as his positive attitude and mature behavior that motivates his peers. 


Student: Lance Sigmon

School: Clover Middle School, Clover, SC

Nominator: Pauline Childs

Grade: 7

Nominated for: System 44

Lexile Growth: 136%

Described as a bright and curious student by his System 44 teacher, Ms. Pauline Childs, Lance has worked hard to change his mindset and approach to reading. Prior to System 44, Lance did not enjoy reading because he struggled with learning his phonetic sounds and read significantly below grade level. Now, he enjoys reading books about things he finds interesting like hunting, fishing, animals and the outdoors. Lance regained a belief in hard-work and has significantly increased his Lexile score. 


Student: Cahrin Donald

School: Elyria High School, Elyria, OH

Nominator:  Frances Wondrak

Grade: 12

Nominated for: READ 180

Lexile Growth: 25% 

Cahrin is self-motivated and sets the bar high for herself, according to Cahrin’s READ 180 teacher, Ms. Frances Wondrak. While Cahrin is non-verbal and her body is confined to a wheelchair, this hasn’t set limits on her ability to be successful in the READ 180 program or in her life. Along with her paraprofessional, Cahrin uses her phone, wheelchair joystick and Chromebook to communicate with the world and has improved her Lexile score by four grades in a four-month period. She plans on attending college after she graduates to study early childhood education. 


Name: Trevon Walker

School: Gillette Road Middle School, Cicero, New York

Nominator: Erika Gilbert

Grade: 6

Nominated for: MATH 180

Quantile Growth: 128%

Despite Trevon’s academic struggles, he arrives in his MATH 180 class every day happy and ready to give 110%. In just one year, Trevon’s math Quantile has increased by 205 points. As his confidence in his math studies has grown, so has his confidence and success in other subjects. He has discovered that math is applicable in numerous scenarios outside of the classroom, from sports to shopping, and as a result, is determined to achieve more and succeed both in and outside of his MATH 180 class. He plans to one day go to college and continue to play sports. 


Name: Unique Eberhardt 

School: Langley Middle School, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

Nominator: Rodney Necciai 

Grade: 8

Nominated for: MATH 180

Quantile Growth: 193%

Prior to Unique’s involvement in MATH 180, she was very frustrated academically. Despite her best efforts, she still could not solve the problems correctly and she would give up. Two years of MATH 180 coupled with Unique’s determination to grow and never give up has resulted in her math Quantile increase of 630 points. She has finally established the necessary foundation required for her success in mathematics and to regain her confidence academically. Unique hopes to be an ER doctor when she grows up. 


Name: Ninel Marcos Lara

School: Glyndale Elementary School, Brunswick, Georgia

Nominator: Kimberly Waters

Grade: 5

Nominated for: READ 180

Lexile Growth: 969%

When Ninel started Kindergarten, she joined as an ESL student, having been raised in a Spanish-speaking household. Despite the specialized English classes, she still had trouble learning and speaking English and as a result, could not reach reading proficiency at her grade level. After three years with READ 180, Ninel’s reading Lexile increased by 785 points. She has transformed from a shy student, unable to read or speak much English, to an outspoken, confident role model who is determined to help other struggling students succeed.   


Name: Serenity Steele

School: Cecil Floyd Elementary School, Joplin, Missouri

Nominator: Brian Bandy 

Grade: 4

Nominated for: READ 180

Lexile Growth: 91%

Though she is only in fourth grade, Serenity has already faced many challenges in her young life. Despite the challenges, however, she is a fighter, and is determined to be positive about and successful in her academics. Because of this mentality, Serenity has overcome her struggles with reading comprehension and after just one year with READ 180 her reading Lexile increased by 372 points enabling her to graduate from the program and return to a general education English class. She plans to attend college one day in hopes of becoming a Pediatrician so that she can continue to help kids as she currently does in her classes.   


Name: Adama Bah

School: Hyde Leadership Charger School, New York, New York

Nominator: Ada Garcia

Grade: 7

Nominated for: Read 180

Lexile Growth: 33%

Prior to joining the READ 180 program, Adama lacked confidence in her reading and writing skills and was uncomfortable reading aloud. After two years with READ 180, Adama’s average reading Lexile increased by 264 points. She is now on the honor roll and is determined to help other struggling readers succeed. Because of her growth and grades, she is now an NYC Junior Ambassador, the Vice President of Hyde Leadership’s chapter of the National Junior Honor Society and a member of her school’s student council. 


Name: Natalie Cowell

School: Anderson Junior High School, Chandler, Arizona

Nominator: Carol Lynn Wood

Grade: 8

Nominated for: READ 180

Lexile Growth: 2,314%

When Natalie joined Ms. Wood’s READ 180 class, she was several years behind in reading proficiency and extremely shy. She did not enjoy reading and struggled with comprehension.  Despite these and other challenges, Natalie was determined to become a proficient reader at her grade level before leaving middle school. After three years in the program, Natalie reached her goal and increased her reading Lexile by 972 points. She now enjoys reading both at school and at home and has become more confident in all areas of her life, having realized that success is measured not only by standardized tests and grades, but also by her ability to set and reach appropriately challenging goals. Natalie aspires to attend the University of Arizona and then law school. 


Student: Layla Hummings

School: Dowell Elementary School, Marietta, Georgia

Nominator: Tamela Isley

Grade: 3

Nominated for: System 44

Lexile Growth: 127%

When Layla joined her System 44 class she was a reluctant reader. Her difficulties with reading and comprehension affected her confidence and caused her to retreat. However, after just nine months with System 44, Layla’s reading Lexile increased by 475 points. She is now excited about reading and even asks to spend her recess period indoors with a book. Her confidence has returned and she regularly reads to her siblings and assists students with reading and classwork. Layla hopes to become a teacher one day.


About the Awards

Each year, we ask educators to nominate their students to recognize their dedication and achievements inside and outside the classroom. In previous years, more than $25,000 dollars has been awarded to outstanding READ 180, MATH 180, and System 44 students and their teachers. 

The prizes for students are: $500 for each winner and $100 for each finalist who does not win. The nominating educators of each READ 180 and/or System 44 winner will receive free READ 180 and/or System 44 materials worth $1,000 in retail value for their school or district. The nominating educators of each MATH 180 winner will receive a $1,000 gift certificate to be used for professional development publications from Math Solutions.