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Volume 23, Issue 1 Spring/Summer 2012 Celebrating 25 Years of Making a Difference

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SHARE Magazine © Copyright 2012 by Creative Education Institute® (CEI®) All Rights Reserved. For further information, call 1.800.234.7319. Publisher: Managing Editor: Contributing Editors: Design and Art:

Ric Klein Robin Wilson Lesley Mullen Robyn Irving Robin Wilson

Essential Learning Systems® (ELS®), Mathematical Learning Systems® (MLS®), Science Learning Systems® (SLS®), Science Vocabulary Essentials™ (SVE™) CEI Evaluate™, Letter Recognition® (LR®), CEI Learning Manager™ (CLM™), Quick Tales™ and eQuick Tales™ are registered trademarks of Creative Education Institute®. PRINTED BY: AMA Nystrom Printing/Finishing Waco, Texas 254.776.8860 WRITE TO US: We welcome your letters, testimonials, photos, and stories about your students. The editor reserves the right to determine the suitability of letters for publication and to edit them for accuracy and for length. If you would like to submit photographs, you may send printed copies or digital copies via snail mail or e-mail; if you would like your printed copies or digital media returned to you, please indicate so in your mailing. In order to include a student’s photograph in our publication, we must have a signed copy of the Permission to Reprint form on file before the issue goes to press. You may download the form from the SHARE Magazine page on our website at http://www.ceilearning.com/share.htm. WRITE: SHARE Magazine Creative Education Institute P.O. Box 7306 Waco, Texas 76714-7306

E-MAIL: SHARE@ceilearning.com info@ceilearning.com

support line: 888.511.4194

WEBSITE: www.ceilearning.com

SHARE Volume 23, Issue 1 Spring/Summer 2012 Table of Contents

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25 Years: Making a Difference

10 The Amazing Race Bandera Middle School’s Dusty Drouin, Hailee Lothamer, Wayne Ennis, Ashley Allen, and Travis Caza 12 Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District: Past, Present, and Future 14 Speaking The Language of Success Lingleville School’s Ana Villagomez 15 ELS vital to success of Floresville Graduates Floresville Elementary’s Hunter Burkett and Nathan Menchaca 16 Mission accomplished Harwell Middle School’s Homar Gonzales 17 A Commitment to Excellence Kline Whitis Elementary’s Jameson Varnado, Holly Wilson, and Taylor Oestreich 18 Opening Doors to the Future McAllen (Texas) Independent School District’s DeLeon Middle School 19 Upwardly Mobile McAllen (Texas) Independent School District’s Joy Ramirez 20 What Goes Around, Comes Around Morris Middle School’s Ryan “Ty” Johnson 21 Greenwood Students Get The Help They Need With ELS

Pillow Academy’s Alex Kelly and Mary Dudley Pillow

FAX: 888.475.2402

22 Family Ties Julie, Laura, and Valerie Byrd 23 Pressing on toward the goal St. Bernadette School’s Gregory Roszczybiuk

http://www.facebook.com/ceilearning

24 a gift that money can’t buy Whiteface Independent School District’s Amanda Demel

http://twitter.com/CEI_learning

25 Future Perfect Killeen Independent School District’s Clear Creek Elementary and Nolanville Elementary 28 The Write Stuff The 2011-2012 Creative Writing Contest Winners Special Back Section: The 2011-2012 Who’s Who Among CEI Students


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his year, we celebrate a milestone at CEI … our quadranscentennial … our silver jubilee … our 25th year in partnership with schools, helping those with learning differences achieve academic, social, and professional success. I am confident you will agree that we have cause to celebrate! As I considered this remarkable milestone, I wondered how silver became the traditional symbol for the occasion, so I did a little sleuthing. Where better to go than Hallmark? After all, for over 100 years, Hallmark has been aiding those who care enough to send their very best for celebrations of all kinds. According to Hallmark’s research, the tradition of associating silver with the 25th anniversary seems to have originated with the medieval Germans of Central Europe. Among this population, it was customary for husbands to give their wives a silver garland when they had been married 25 years (http://newsroom.hallmark.com/). According to www.elegantanniversary.com, the silver symbolized the harmony necessary to make so many years of matrimony possible. Hmmm. What’s so special about silver? According to The Silver Institute, (http://www. silverinstitute.org), silver has been considered a precious element for 6,000 years. It was first used as a currency as far back as 700 B.C., and it has had a similar role in almost every ancient and modern culture. From the Greek drachma to the Roman denarius to the British pound sterling, silver has long been highly regarded as a valuable commodity, and its value persists today. As I read more about silver, I was reminded that silver is an extraordinary element. It’s remarkably versatile. It’s strong, but it’s easy to work with. It’s relatively simple to form and to reshape without breaking it. It conducts electricity and heat. It reflects light, and it can endure extreme temperatures. It’s radiant, and it’s brilliant. As The Silver Institute says, “It is an element without substitution.” I love color, so I was intrigued by article after article discussing silver and its role in color theory. Silver is sophisticated, often associated with prestige, prosperity, and wealth. Silver can be sleek and modern, or it can impart a feeling of tradition. Physiologically, silver can be calming and soothing. Psychologically, it represents compassion, patience, reflection, self-control, dignity, organization, responsibility, and perseverance. Yes, silver portrays value in many ways. I have to admit that as pondered all of these things, I struggled to connect them to CEI and our anniversary celebration. It wasn’t until a friend of

mine and I were planning for Easter dinner that it all came together for me…. We decided to invite a large group of family and friends to a special Easter dinner … one for which we’d pull out all the stops, with the fine china, cloth napkins, and — you guessed it — the formal silver. As we divvied up menu items and responsibilities, one task that came up was that of polishing silver. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t use the good silver every day. Inevitably, through a combination of chemical reaction and neglect, tarnish forms on it, and a good polishing is required. Polishing silver is something I really don’t mind doing. I rather enjoy watching the process … with a little attention, dedication, and elbow grease, a dull utensil that by all appearances might not seem to have much value is renewed and becomes a sparkling component of a beautiful place setting. If you think about it, the process is not unlike what happens every day in CEI labs across the country. Our partners, surrounded by a precious commodity — their students — who for a variety of reasons might not appear to have much hope for a successful future, provide the attention, dedication, and yes, sometimes even the elbow grease necessary to help their students succeed. Our partners, like silver, are calming and soothing; they emanate compassion and patience as they teach their students reflection, self-control, dignity, organization, responsibility, and perseverance. A silver jubilee is not just a celebration of the past; it’s also a celebration of renewal. This issue of SHARE is no different. In the “25 Years: Making a Difference” section of this issue, we celebrate the accomplishments learners who have flourished after using our programs, some of them even now sharing their own skills and abilities with the next generation of struggling learners. Our annual “Who’s Who Among CEI Students” section looks forward, highlighting students who, by using our programs this year, have made remarkable improvements that will enable them to achieve success in future endeavors. We thank you for making our past and our future possible, and we invite you to celebrate with us. Happy Anniversary! Best Wishes for Success,

Robin Wilson

Editor, SHARE Magazine Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine Celebrating 25 years of making a difference

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The year 2012 marks the Silver Anniversary of Creative Education Institute, and we feel the need to celebrate! We’re proud that we have been able to keep pace with an ever-changing educational environment. We’re impressed that our client base reaches from coast to coast. And most of all, we’re thankful that for 25 years, we’ve had the privilege of touching untold millions of lives, helping them to find academic, and social, and professional success through our software solutions. Along the way toward this milestone, we have experienced many memorable mile markers, both at CEI and as a culture … and we believe the journey is one worth remembering! If you’re a CEI “veteran,” see how many of these highlights you can recall. If you’re a new addition to the CEI family, take a moment to learn just how our programs have evolved over the last 25 years.

1987

On February 1, CEI opened in Waco, Texas, and began promoting the systematic, multi-sensory program — Essential Learning Systems, or ELS. CEI first advertised ELS as a “rapid reading” program and sought students

who would be willing to try it out. After being bombarded with phone calls from parents desperate to help their struggling readers, a lab was established and classes were held at the company’s headquarters, initially with about 15 students.

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1988-1990

1992-1993

Word spread quickly about the incredible results students were seeing at the new reading lab in Waco. By the time the 1988-89 school year rolled around, the fledgling company known as CEI had contracts with approximately 20 schools to implement the innovative new program known as Essential Learning Systems, and several other schools were in line to implement it as well. It soon became apparent that CEI needed to create an improved product. While the initial program was effective and the company was experiencing great success, the CEI team found ELS somewhat cumbersome and challenging to operate. Because they recognized that interactive learning and involvement are crucial to students’ academic success, they wanted to develop a program that allowed educators to spend more time doing what educators do best: working with students — not programs.

Although the 1992-93 school year included no major changes to the ELS program, CEI still strived to enhance student learning. As a result, the company provided a software program called SpellChamp for second and third year labs. This innovative program allowed sight and sound spelling drills on customized word lists and sentences. And, with a commitment to insuring well-prepared lab facilitators, the company expanded the ELS training classes from four days to five.

1990-1991 In 1990, Paul J. Meyer purchased CEI. A Waco native, Mr. Meyer was an internationally recognized businessman. He quickly caught the CEI vision and eagerly provided the support the company needed to take the next step. With Meyer’s backing, CEI designed a new computerized learning system based on not only the success of its original program, but also the most current educational theories of effective teaching and learning. Through concentrated effort and a team of highly motivated individuals, Essential Learning Systems (ELS) 1.0 made its debut in the fall of 1990. It featured computer-generated sound files, replacing the original, and cumbersome, cassette tapes. Over the course of the 1990-91 school year, 48 schools placed orders for the innovative computer-based program. This was also the year that the first-ever issue of SHARE was published.

1991-1992 CEI needed help in making its ELS sound files less space consumptive. Through consultation with Texas Instruments, then a leader in computer voice devices, CEI learned of a technique called Linear Predictive Coding (LPC). A special computer chip allowed CEI to record the speech and compress it to over 100 times smaller than the normal space required. This technique allowed the company to use recorded speech and not simply rely on a synthetic, computer-generated voice.

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1993-1994 Within the company’s first few years, CEI had partnered with hundreds of educational institutions — public and private schools, prisons, adult literacy programs, and schools of higher learning. In September 1993, CEI released the Picture Reference book for Level I, calling the manual a “tremendous tool for aiding initial growth of word meanings in lower entry students.” CEI’s SHARE newsletter got a makeover to allow more space for recognizing partners’ outstanding results, for sharing beneficial activities, and for spotlighting outstanding students and labs. And in 1994, CEI promoted the first SUPER (Superior Unique Performance equals Exceptional Results) Lab contest. In this predecessor to today’s Exemplary Lab contest, CEI recognized outstanding partners and their achievements.

1994-1995 In 1994, the company presented the first major enhancements to ELS since Paul J. Meyer had helped bring about ELS 1.0. The new software, ELS 3.0, was a monumental release. For the first time, the program included illustrations of each lesson word to improve word recognition and vocabulary. The vocabulary-building Word Match task, complete with eight different versions, replaced an older lesson task (Clues II), and the fun auditory discrimination exercise, Quick Pick, was born. Built-in reviews were added when students struggled with the Word Match and Clues tasks. Programmers added the Title Bar to provide more information for supervising facilitators, and an automatic save feature was incorporated to prevent data loss. But perhaps the greatest addition to ELS was the addition of the automated lesson sequences – lesson plans that determined the order of lesson tasks and automatically presented those tasks to students, so facilitators didn’t have to make selections for the students. Sequences remain a key component of individualizing ELS lessons still today.

In addition to its excellent new teaching and management components, ELS 3.0 also boasted new recordings with improved voice clarity. Although CEI stayed with Linear Predictive Coding because of the compression available, a new sound booth and related equipment was purchased from Texas Instruments. The enhanced recordings required a new speech chip, and to ensure that each student could hear the best recordings possible as they worked their lessons, CEI replaced over 3,000 sound devices — known as Double Talk boxes — at no cost to schools with active service agreements. ELS3.0 wasn’t the only new program CEI partners received in 1994-95. In February, CEI announced that a Single User version of Letter Recognition would be mailed to all active elementary school labs and to any other lab that requested it, and in the spring of 1995, CEI released CEI Evaluate 1.0, which greatly simplified the process of scoring Diagnostic Screening Test: Reading (DST:R) and Learning Efficiency Test-II (LET-II) tests.

1995-1996 CEI listened to educators and continued to make program improvements to ELS largely based on requests from people using the program with students. Along with the suggestions for improving ELS came repeated requests for a mathematics program “that does for math what ELS does for literacy.” In the fall of 1995, these requests were answered when Mathematical Learning Systems (MLS) 1.0 was introduced as the latest software solution from CEI. Taking advantage of new computer technologies, CEI delivered this innovative dual approach for teaching math concepts and improving fact fluency on compact disc (CD) – the first time the company had employed this technology. The new recording format allowed students to hear human voice with the clarity that LPC couldn’t provide.

1996-1997 With the release of ELS 3.1 at the beginning of the 1996-97 school year, facilitators and students were introduced to the concepts of Primary Tasks and Supporting Tasks. These distinctions were established and students were required to complete SHARE and Echo ­— the Primary Tasks — before exiting the program, lest they have to repeat them upon the next login. This remains an important part of ELS sequences today. In late 1996, CEI shipped the first Phoneme Awareness manual, recommending that facilitators use this new manual to assist dyslexic students who were having difficulty with the See Say task in ELS.


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1997-1998 In 1997, ELS leapt into the modern computer era with the introduction of version 4.0. Like MLS, this new version provided CD-quality speech and a windowbased management system. In labs with then-modern operating systems, facilitators no longer had to deal with floppy disks. Labs employing older computers benefited from updated software, too, as CEI released ELS 3.2 on diskette. In the spring of 1998, CEI worked out a way to import student test data through a system called StatGen ’98. This new system made it possible for facilitators to avoid completing pages of handwritten Record of Testing forms; they could simply export DST:R pre-test and post-test data to a floppy disk and submit the disk to CEI for statistical analysis. This amazing process expedited the entire statistical analysis process, providing faster turnaround of stat information and allowing partners to see the year’s progress earlier than ever before.

1998-1999 Although the 1998-99 school year saw only minor enhancements to ELS and MLS, CEI was proud to release CEI Evaluate 2.0, a stand-alone version of Evaluate that no longer required Microsoft Excel to function. The 1998-99 school year also saw the birth of the modern Exemplary Lab recognition program, which is still in existence today.

1999-2000 As the world prepared for the dawn of the new millennium in 2000, experts speculated that computer programs – which typically stored years with only two digits – could stop working or produce erroneous results because the programs would represent the year 2000 by “00.” This potential problem was commonly referred to as the Y2K bug. After years of preparation for Y2K, CEI experienced no problems, and only minor computer-related problems were reported worldwide.

Perhaps less momentous than the Y2K scare, but extremely important to CEI partners, was the revival of CEI’s Creative Writing Contest, which had taken a short hiatus in the few years prior. Also in 1999-2000, SHARE featured CEI’s Digit character as he began a five-year trek across the country to visit our partners’ MLS labs. “Digit’s Adventures” chronicled the journey of MLS’ animated math teacher (or more accurately, a stuffed likeness of him) as he visited each lab. During Digit’s visit, students wrote stories about their towns and the activities he would enjoy while he visited. Each story included some interesting mathematical information about Digit’s locale and its activities, and Digit shared the stories with SHARE readers, providing word problems and puzzles for them to solve.

2000-2001 The 2000-2001 school year ushered in a new technological era for CEI. In that year, CEI released ELS 5.0 with the CEI Learning Manager (CLM). CEI developers rebuilt the ELS program from scratch and incorporated modern programming techniques that allowed for better handling and storage of data, as well as amazing new program functionalities. One of the most noteworthy and well-received new functionalities of ELS 5.0 was the Auto Recycle feature, which replaced the tedious and timeconsuming review process facilitators and students had previously endured when students didn’t demonstrate mastery on a Mastery Lesson. ELS 5.0 also sported the new Enhanced Lesson reports that made analyzing student progress easier for not only facilitators, but for teachers and parents, too. ELS wasn’t the only program that got a facelift in 2000. MLS 2.0 for Windows sported the new MLS Student Manager, a great improvement over the MLS 1.x management system. Partners also received eQuickTales, a computerized version of the immensely popular comprehension supplement to ELS.

2001-2002 Americans remember all too well the shock and anxiety associated with the autumn of 2001, specifically the terrorist attack on New York City’s Word Trade Center towers. CEI employees and clients, some of whom were in CEI software trainings together on the morning of September 11, paused to pray for the nation. Then, with the indomitable spirit that Americans take such pride in, life went on … only with a stronger sense of the value of what the U.S. flag represents, and with a reminder of the sacrifices made by the men and women who serve at home and abroad to protect our freedoms.

Gates became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire at age 31. A gallon of gasoline cost just 89 cents, and a pound of bacon was about $1.80. “Black Monday” — October 19 — saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummet 508.32 points, losing 22.6% of its total value.

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On February 1, 1997, CEI celebrated its 10th anniversary, and in an effort to make more people aware of how they could make a difference with CEI products, the first CEI website debuted in May 1997. Paul J. Meyer made another significant change in February of 1996 when he hired Terry Irwin to become the CEO for all 30+ Meyer Companies, including CEI. In an ironic twist of fate, one of Mr. Irwin’s daughters was actually among the students in CEI’s very first lab, and because of his passion for the results from CEI’s products, Mr. Irwin chose to become the new President of CEI in addition to his CEO responsibilities.

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CDs outsold vinyl records for the first time. (1988)

Rain Man was a hit at the box office. (1988) Lucille Ball died at the age of 87. (1989) A postage stamp cost 25 cents. (1989) The fall of the Berlin wall occurred on November 9. (1989)

1990-91 Unbridled won the Kentucky Derby. (1990) Kentucky Fried Chicken officially changed its name to KFC. (1991) Actor Michael Landon announced that he had inoperable pancreatic cancer. (1991)

1991-92

Silence Of The Lambs won the big five Oscars — Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Writing. (1991) Ted Turner was Time Magazine’s Man of the Year. (1991)

The movies Unforgiven, The Bodyguard, and A Few Good Men were hits at theaters nationwide. (1992) World leaders proclaimed a formal end to the Cold War (1992).

1992-93

The U.S. Transportation Department began an ad campaign declaring “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” (1992) Whitney Houston had a long-lasting #1 hit with “I Will Always Love You.” (November 1992-March 1993) Seinfeld won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. (1993) Beanie Babies hit the market for the first time. (1993) A first class stamp cost 29 cents. (1993)

1993-94

National Dairy Farmers got our attention with the ad campaign that asked, “Got milk?” (1993) Moviegoers enjoyed blockbusters including Jurassic Park, Mrs. Doubtfire , and Sleepless in Seattle (1993) Power Rangers action figures made their first appearance on the toy market. (1993) O.J. Simpson led police for miles in a slow car chase while driving a white Ford Bronco. (1994) Forrest Gump reminded us that life is like a box of chocolates. (1994)

1994-95 The Dallas Cowboys won Super Bowl XXVIII, and the Houston Rockets were NBA Champions. (1994) The Oklahoma City federal building was decimated by a bomb that killed 168 people, including 19 children; Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were arrested. (1995)

1995-96 Americans were glued to the TV on Thursday nights to watch E.R. (1995) Oprah started her book club and quickly helped “make or break” authors. (1996)

1996-97 The dance craze known as the Macarena swept across the nation. (1996) Leonardo DiCaprio declared, “I’m the king of the world!” in the blockbuster movie Titanic . (1997)

1997-98

Purell hand sanitizer was launched as a product for the general public, having been used by healthcare workers since 1988. (1997) Singer John Denver died in a plane crash, and Diana, Princess of Wales, died in an automobile crash. (1997) Twelve European countries agreed on a single currency, the euro. (1998) An estimated 76 million viewers watched the final episode of Seinfeld . (1998)

1998-99

Senator John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, returned to orbit at age 77 in the space shuttle Discovery. (1998) MP3s were sold to the public for the first time. (1998)

Haley Joel Osment declared, “I see dead people” in the blockbuster movie The Sixth Sense. (1999) American Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France for the first time. (1999) Susan Lucci won her first Daytime Emmy Award after 19 nominations. (1999)

1999-2000 “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” starring host Regis Philbin, was the most popular TV show. (1999)

The big Y2K scare turned out to be mostly a non-issue, with no significant problems reported. (2000) Albert Einstein was named as Time Magazine’s Person of the Century. (2000) A naked guy named Richard Hatch won $1 million in the first season of CBS’s reality show Survivor. An estimated 51 million viewers tuned in for the final episode of that first season. (2000)

2000-01 Cuban boy Elian Gonzalez, age 6, was at the center of an international dispute after federal agents raided the home of his Miami relatives in order to return him to his father in Cuba. (2000) Charles Schulz, the cartoonist who created the “Peanuts” comic strip, died of colon cancer. (2000) Terrorists used three commercial airliners to attack the twin towers of NYC’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked plane crashed 80 miles outside of Pittsburgh, PA. Thousands were killed on the day that became known as 9/11. (2001)

2001-02 The Grammy for Song of the Year went to “Beautiful Day” by U2. (2001) The first iPod was released in October, and the X-Box came out in November. (2001) Enron’s accounting scandal cost investors close to $60 billion, and their accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, went out of business. (2001)

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CEI continued its mission to provide the best possible software solutions, and February 2002 brought with it the celebration of CEI’s 15th anniversary. A special anniversary edition of SHARE caught up with former CEI students and showed how CEI partners and programs had enabled those students to achieve academic, social, and professional success — even after leaving the CEI lab.

2002-2003 Although CEI’s popular programs saw only minor enhancements in 2002-2003, the company devoted its attention to developing an improved website, one that would provide valuable resources and support for our partners – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The end-of-year statistical analysis process was enhanced even further, as labs could download their statistical results by simply entering their software key code. CEI also offered partners its unique CEI Journal program that let students select picture prompts or topics to inspire them to write and print original stories. Perhaps these new levels of support were some of the reasons ELS was honored by eSchool News as one of the “topquality instructional programs” in the K-3 Best Language Arts Software category. In the summer of 2003, CEI released CODEBREAKER, a program that used an action setting to incorporate the instructional methods endorsed by the National Reading Panel and the No Child Left Behind Act. By completing the CODEBREAKER lesson tasks, students learned how to master all of the “codes” involved in reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

2003-2004 The 2003-2004 school year brought the release of ELS 6.0. CEI partners and students benefited from enhanced content, such as Phoneme Introductions, Automated Long Term Recall, and Auditory Feedback. A simplified CEI Learning Manager interface streamlined lab and student management, and Individualized Preferences gave facilitators more control over students’ lessons. The Early Warning System also offered suggestions for lesson modifications, allowing facilitators to individualize students’ lessons further. On-Demand Worksheet Printing allowed students to print lesson worksheets directly from the program instead of facilitators hovering over copiers making copies of worksheets that might or might not ever be used. And accountability to administrators, parents and even students was greater than ever, thanks to several new and enhanced reports. 8

Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine www.ceilearning.com Spring/Summer 2012

2004-2005

2006-2007

Although there were no major revisions to CEI’s main programs in 2004-2005, ELS labs received a handy “Welcome Back” gift when they returned to work in August 2003. CEI’s new Computerized ELS Placement Test expedited the testing process by freeing facilitator time, simplifying ELS lesson selection, allowing for a variety of testing schedules, providing detailed testing reports, and maintaining ELS Placement records. In December 2004, CEI introduced the popular Web-based Activity Center (WAC), which made learning portable by allowing students opportunities to practice the skills they learned in the CEI lab from any computer with Internet access. The WAC featured Creative Crosswords, Picture This! and Creative Word Searches, all of which had previously been available only in print format. The WAC also included a revamped version of CEI Journal.

The fall semester of 2006 brought the release of MLS 3.0, as well as the publication of Why MLS Works: Its Scientific, Theoretical, and Evaluation Research Base to show why MLS is such an outstanding intervention for students who struggle with math. A new version of ELS also arrived in labs, and this version touted a feature called CEI Direct. With CEI Direct, it became possible for Solutions Analysts to conduct virtual service visits to labs and to make recommendations just as they would if they visited the labs in person. In February 2007, CEI celebrated another milestone, the 20th anniversary of its founding. Although technology had changed significantly since the company’s beginning, the original focus on students and their needs never wavered.

2005-2006 The 2005-2006 school year saw many exciting changes. In recent years, it had become abundantly clear that CEI’s Educational Consultants were called upon to do much more than just consult with partners about the programs and educational matters; they were also called upon to assist with technical matters, to present information in workshops and in-services, and to conduct training classes. Realizing that its consultants provided solutions to a wide variety of issues, CEI gave all consultants a new title — ­ Solutions Analyst. Greatly improved, modernized ELS graphics were unveiled in Advanced (7.0.1) and Classic (7.0.0) versions of ELS, and ELS Advanced users got to share new Parent Progress Reports in English and Spanish. Beta testing began for MLS 3.0, the first update to MLS in several years. Digit’s Widgets, an exciting math fluency game, debuted on the WAC in October. October was also a big month for SHARE, which had an extreme makeover and an exciting new magazine format. In the age of accountability and No Child Left Behind, CEI’s new president, Bonnie Lesley, a well-known educator and administrator, published Why ELS Works: Its Scientific, Theoretical, and Evaluation Research Base, which presented the scientifically-based research behind ELS. And CEI simplified accountability for its partners by making ELS statistical data entry possible from the CEI website for the first time. This capability made it possible for labs to receive summaries of the year’s progress within just minutes of submitting their DST:R test scores. The new process also included a redesigned statistical report and a guide to interpreting the results.

2007-2008 CEI worked busily to incorporate a totally revamped Letter Recognition (LR) into ELS, launching this feature in 2007. Having LR as a part of ELS meant the ease of having only one management system for all levels of learners. This was a major help to facilitators who previously had to have some students entered in the LR program and others entered in ELS. And, beginning in 2008, MLS partners gained the same CEI Direct capability as had already been available for ELS partners. Now Solutions Analysts could check on both ELS and MLS students via computer records when requested by educators using CEI’s software solutions.

2009-2010 For many years, the CEI database of feedback from schools included strong suggestions that CEI develop a science intervention that emphasizes the development of scientific vocabulary and fluency. In Summer 2009, we did just that, launching Science Learning Systems (SLS) for grades 3-5. Using the powerful and effective learning engine in ELS, SLS taught sets of scientific words and terms according to meaning or thematic patterns. SLS students learned how to decode scientific words or terms, as well as how to pronounce them, spell them, define them, and use them in context, just as students do in ELS. CEI used the powerful learning engine that is responsible for the success of ELS to address seven categories of scientific themes:       

How We Learn Earth Science Life Science Science Processes Physical Science Technology Morphology


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2010-2011 In 2010, MLS got an extreme makeover, making it more visually appealing to facilitators and students alike. Additionally, the MLS word problems were updated to rid them of era-specific terminology — like “Sega” and “cassettes” — that might be unfamiliar to current students.

2011-2012 In 2011, CEI ushered in significant enhancements for both ELS and MLS. In ELS, students were still automatically pre-tested, but two new test activities were added to the original Pattern Identification and Spelling test sections; students would now have to prove that they could match the words to their meanings (Vocabulary) and use them correctly in sentences (Maze Fluency) in order to bypass those lessons. The same four-part test would be given at the end of a lesson cycle (as a post-test) so that progress could be assessed for each student on each cycle completed. The resulting data would allow facilitators to produce what are arguably its most helpful student reports in the history of the company: the Continuous Progress Monitoring (CPM) reports. CPM reports were now available for individual students or as a CPM Summary report, with both types accessible throughout the school year. For students who needed extra review in order to achieve mastery, the recycling process was enhanced to include two vocabulary-related activities, specifically Word Match and Clues. And ELS facilitators had even more to rejoice about as new task parameter settings were put in place, allowing facilitators to pre-set specific aspects — like speed and duration — of various lesson activities, including Echo, Copy-Write, Quick Pick, Quick Talk and Auditory Feedback. And as if all of that was not enough, a new version of Word Match (Version 5) went online for the first time.

MLS had its own impressive enhancements in 2011. Facilitators were now able to enter MLS Placement Test scores into the MLS Student Manager, thereby allowing the program to assess math students in the same way that ELS students would be assessed — via the Continuous Progress Monitoring (CPM) summary report. The new report compared students’ MLS Placement results with the results of the Assessment lesson taken at the end of an MLS Phase. MLS would also boast a new, on-screen and printable Concept Building Progress Chart, something that had been done with paper and pencil previously. Finally, facilitators were given the new ability to print (or view on screen) an MLS Fluency Mastered Facts report, providing an easy way to track which math facts students were gaining competency on in the Fluency stage of their MLS work. Not to be left out, Science Learning Systems its own extreme makeover in 2011. Determining that the program’s focus on vocabulary development differentiates it from CEI’s learning systems for reading and math, CEI renamed the program Science Vocabulary Essentials (SVE) and included a restructured scope and sequence, improved graphics, and brand new content appropriate for students through grade 8.

2012... In the fall of 2012, the ELS program will be improved yet again with the addition of eQuick Tales following Mastery Lessons. Students completing these lesson-related short stories, and the corresponding follow-up questions, will have a new level of comprehension practice and preparation for state-mandated comprehension testing. Also in the coming fall semester, MLS students will — for the first time ever — not need to take a paper-and-pencil version of the MLS Placement Test. Instead, MLS will deliver an Integrated MLS Placement Test, or Auto-Placement, prior to each Phase of Concept Building lessons. This new test will ensure that students will work only on areas where they have shown weakness. CEI’s Silver Anniversary is an occasion for us to look back proudly at how far we have come. Even a cursory glance at the 25-year history of CEI shows an incredible dedication to keeping up with — and even ahead of — the educational needs of schools and of individual students. Still, we have not stopped growing, and we are not interested in “resting on our laurels.” Not by a long shot. Please join us as we begin our next 25 years of making a difference in the lives of students!

2002-03 Las Vegas launched the popular tourism slogan, “What happens here, stays here.” (2002) Michael Jackson caused a firestorm of protest when he dangled his infant, Prince Michael II, off the balcony of a Berlin hotel room. (2002)

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SLS differed from ELS and MLS in that it operated with little teacher involvement in the back of a classroom or in an independent study situation. Sequences were designed for mainstream or advanced learners, as well as for those who struggle to learn. The fall of 2009 brought the Integrated ELS Placement, or Auto-Placement, built into the ELS program, as opposed to the separate application used previously for computerized placement. Students were required to show proficiency in Patten Identification and Spelling prior to beginning a new cycle of lessons. Passing scores on both components of the Auto-Placement allowed students to skip one Mastery Cycle at a time until reaching an area of weakness, thus always ensuring that students were working on patterns they did not already know.

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The space shuttle Columbia exploded over East Texas during re-entry into the atmosphere on February 3, killing all seven astronauts aboard. (2003) Disney’s Pixar Productions released Finding Nemo, an animated film that went on to gross more than $340 million. (2003)

2003-04

Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year went to The American Soldier. (2003) Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won 11 Oscars, winning every category it was in. (2003) Americans celebrated the capture of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein by American troops on December 13. (2003) The Summer Olympics took place in Athens, Greece, August 13-29. (2004) Game show contestant Ken Jennings won a record 74 games and 2.5 million dollars on Jeopardy! (2004)

Outrage was sparked worldwide when images were released of American soldiers humiliating Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. (2004)

2004-05 William Hung lost on American Idol, but won America’s heart with his rendition of Ricky Martin’s song “She Bangs.” (2004) A Tsunami killed nearly a quarter of a million people in Indonesia and the entire South Asian area, including Sri Lanka, India and Thailand. It was caused by an underwater earthquake with a guesstimated magnitude of 9.2. It lasted nearly 10 minutes and some waves were 100 feet tall. (2004) Low-carb diets like “Atkins” and “South Beach” were in vogue. (2004) Despite death threats from terrorist groups, about 11 million brave Iraqi citizens dipped their index fingers in purple ink to show that they had voted in the country’s historic parliamentary elections, the first since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. (2005) Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie. (2005)

2005-06 Sudoku puzzles, YouTube, MySpace, and Webkinz plush animals all gained popularity. (2005) Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, LA, leaving over 1,000 dead and over one million homeless. (August 2005) The novel Twilight was published for the first time. (2005) The FOX network took home Emmy awards for Outstanding Comedy Series (Arrested Development) and Outstanding Drama Series (24). (2005) Facebook was opened to anyone over age 13 with a valid email address. (2006)

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Box office hits included Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Cars, The Da Vinci Code, and The Pursuit of Happyness. (2006)

Dora the Explorer dolls and Wii game systems were the hot Christmas gifts. (2006) California Democrat Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Speaker of the House. (2007) Reality show American Idol was the most popular TV show, followed by another reality show Dancing with the Stars. (2007) The San Antonio Spurs became NBA Champions. (2007)

2008-09

The New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 17-14 in one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history. (2008) Cuban president Fidel Castro permanently stepped down after 49 years in power. (2008) Barack Obama defeated John McCain for the presidency of the United States, making Obama the first person of color to hold the office. (Nov. 2008) Pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III was hailed as the “Hero of the Hudson” when he landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River after the jet allegedly hit a flock of geese. (Jan. 2009)

2009-10 Major Nidal Hasan, an army psychiatrist, opened fire at the Fort Hood army post in Texas, killing three and injuring 29 others. (2009) In late November 2009, Tiger Woods admitted to “transgressions” in his marriage and took a several-month hiatus from golf. (2009-10)

Avatar, written and directed by James Cameron, was the movie to see when it was released in countries all over the globe in December. (2009)

2010-11

In October, 33 Chilean miners were rescued over a 24-hour period after having spent 68 days trapped in a collapsed mine. (2010) Kate Middleton married Prince William in a lavish royal wedding at Westminster Abbey in London. (2011) U.S. troops and CIA operatives shot and killed Osama bin Laden. (2011) CEI’s hometown, the city of Waco, Texas, celebrated the selection of Robert Griffin III as the first Heisman Trophy winner from Waco’s Baylor University.

2011-12 In one of the worst U.S. tornado seasons in recorded history, 137 tornadoes swept through the south, killing nearly 300 people in six states. (2011) A movement called Occupy Wall Street was organized to protest in New York’s financial district. The protestors defined themselves as a group of activists who were standing against corporate greed, social inequality, and the disproportion between the rich and the poor. (2011) Popular books were The Help, Heaven is for Real, and Water for Elephants . (2011) Singer Whitney Houston was found dead in the bathtub of the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (2012) Audiences flocked to the opening of the movie The Hunger Games, based on the first of a book trilogy by Suzanne Collins. (2012) CEI and Waco, Texas, celebrated the Baylor Lady Bears’ NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship. (2012) Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine Celebrating 25 years of making a difference

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The Amazing Race Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races, one after another.

Walter Elliott

For many students with learning differences, the race to finish school seems like a long one that doesn’t end quickly enough. Bombarded by coursework, tests, benchmarks, and assessment after assessment, many struggling learners sometimes overlook that these things constitute little races and elect to abandon the bigger race before they even near the finish line. Fortunately, Bandera (Texas) Middle School has the perfect person in place to keep those learners on track. Since March 2003, Essential Learning Systems (ELS) facilitator Monica Wilson has cheered on hundreds of students as they’ve completed those little races. From students just learning English, to resource students, to discouraged students lacking confidence and self-esteem, Monica has played a critical role in enabling numerous learners to achieve academic, social, and professional success. “It never ceases to amaze me the changes that transpire in many of the students who come through the lab,” attests Monica. “I have experienced students who spoke no English at all when first tested, and I’ve watched them progress to beyond an eleventh grade reading level by the end of the school year.” Monica reports that she has also seen some of these students pass state-mandated testing in reading the very first year they were in the United States. “I have watched many of my ESL [English as a Second Language] students advance enough to pass TAKS [Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills] after two or three years in the program, even one student who was labeled as MR (mentally retarded),” she adds. Monica has seen many, many successful outcomes. In celebration of CEI’s 25th anniversary, she shared some of those successes with her Solutions Specialist, Connee Stine.

Dusty

Drouin Dusty entered Monica’s program during seventh grade as a mainstreamed resource student. Monica recalls that Dusty “was very quiet and had little confidence in herself.” What Dusty did have was a love for horses. During her eighth grade year, she entered CEI’s annual Creative Writing Contest with a story about a horse. “She wrote an excellent story and was awarded the first President’s Award from CEI,” Monica remembers. “I got word about the award, but we kept it quiet until the awards ceremony I hold every year for those who place in the contest. We framed her award and certificate, along with purchasing a small trophy for her. 10

Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine www.ceilearning.com Spring/Summer 2012

By connee stine, solutions specialist

“I will never forget the comment Dusty made shortly after getting that award,” Monica said. “She said, ‘Until now, the only place I have ever felt successful was on my horse, but I guess I can succeed at other things, too.’” Winning that contest, along with the success she experienced in the ELS lab, changed Dusty’s school life. Monica has kept track Today, Dusty is a successful of Dusty and reports that she high school student, and she has gone on to be successful is active in FFA. in high school. “Dusty is very active in FFA [Future Farmers of America],” Monica said. “She was a part of the FFA horse judging team, and she will be graduating this year. She plans to work at a vet clinic and go on to college.”

Hailee

Lothamer Hailee was routed into the ELS lab during her seventh grade year. “She was a very diligent student and worked very hard, but she still struggled,” Monica recalled. “She had little self-confidence… She somehow persevered in every class, but she just wasn’t able to be as successful as she wanted to be.” Hailee’s reading teacher recommended her for a spot in the ELS lab. From the start, Monica recognized that this young girl “really wanted to succeed, but was just lacking some skills to allow her to experience success.” Nevertheless, Hailee worked very hard in the ELS program and in a short time, her confidence began to grow. As her confidence improved, so did her reading success. “She started the program on about a fourth grade reading level and left middle school reading at a tenth grade level in just two short years,” Monica reports proudly. Now Hailee is a high school junior, and she continues to do well. “She even finds the time to serve as a basketball manager and participates in band, athletics, and FFA,” Monica notes. Although Hailee is uncertain as to the specifics of her future, she does plan to attend college, and she readily states, “CEI made a big difference for me!”


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Ennis Wayne, now a freshman in high school, is active in Ag, and his Ag teacher reports that Wayne does well academically, is confident, and “has really grown up a lot.” This may sound typical and completely unremarkable; however, it was just last year that Wayne was placed in the ELS lab, and he was far from typical at the time. In fact, he was woefully behind his peers. Monica remembers the circumstances. “Wayne moved into our district late in his seventh grade year, but it was his eighth grade reading teacher who came to ask me if I could test this struggling student for possible participation in my ELS reading lab,” Monica said. “She (the teacher) stated that she didn’t think Wayne even knew the entire alphabet in order… I tested him and found out that her suspicions were pretty close to correct.” The teacher requested that Wayne be placed in the ELS program as soon as possible. A couple of weeks later, the eighth graders took their first benchmark of the year, and Wayne failed it miserably. Desperate to improve, Wayne began to attend the ELS lab as often as possible, most weeks eight or more times. “We sat in amazement as we watched Wayne blossom and grow,” Monica said. “We could see his self-esteem improving, and his grades were definitely getting better also.” When the time came to take the official TAKS test, this particular eighth grader was understandably apprehensive. Nevertheless, Wayne took the test and passed the Reading section for the first time ever! “This year, Wayne goes out of his way to talk to me whenever the opportunity arises,” Monica said. “He always asks me about his younger brother who is now in the program, and he told me, ‘I told him (Wayne’s brother) that he better learn to love the (ELS) lab program because it changed my life! Because of CEI, I can read!’”

Ashley

Allen Ashley is currently a 20-year-old student at St. Phillips College in San Antonio, but this ambitious young woman did not always have such a bright future ahead. When she was in seventh grade, she had great difficulty reading, so she began attending the ELS lab. “She was struggling in her classes and had low self-esteem,” recalled Monica. “Initially, Ashley resisted the program, but as she began to recognize how much it was helping her, the resistant attitude changed completely. She couldn’t get enough most days. “Ashley’s seventh grade year was the first year she had ever passed her TAKS Reading, and she continued that success in her eighth grade year,” Monica reported. Since then, there has been no stopping her.

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“During the time that Ashley worked in the ELS M c ak n ing program, she gained approximately two years’ worth re a Diffe of improvement in her reading level for every year she spent in the lab,” Monica said. “In fact, even after moving up to the high school campus, Ashley traveled back to the middle school to use the ELS program to help continue improving her reading.” Interestingly, Ashley is passionate about a special hobby of hers: she loves to restore old Mustangs. It could be that she likes the challenge, or maybe she just likes fast cars. But perhaps part of her passion comes from recognizing the importance of taking something that appears to have very little potential, and helping get it to a place of complete functionality … Today, Ashley is passionate just as was done for her. about restoring Ford mustangs.

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Travis Caza worked in the ELS lab for all three years of his time at Bandera Middle School. “Travis really struggled with his reading and was at a first grade reading level when he entered my program in sixth grade,” said Monica. “By the time he left the middle school, he was reading on or very near to grade level.” Although Travis was not enthusiastic about being in the lab at the time, he now recognizes how valuable it was for him. “Travis doesn’t hesitate to tell me that he didn’t like coming to the lab,” Monica said, “but he now says he has to admit that the program really made a difference for him.” Travis himself recalls, “Before starting CEI, I had no confidence, and I knew I couldn’t read very well.” Now, at age 20, Travis works as a custodian for the Bandera school district and attends classes at Saint Phillips College, with a goal of becoming an X-ray technician. Attending college is a remarkable accomplishment for Travis, especially when you consider that being so far behind his peers could have easily put him at risk for eventually dropping out of school. Fortunately, the intervention of a dedicated CEI facilitator and the ELS program made a difference. Today, Travis is working to become an X-Ray Technician. Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine Celebrating 25 years of making a difference

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Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District

Past, Present, and Future

By Valerie Byrd, solutions Analyst

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EI is not alone in marking a milestone in 2012 — Edinburg (Texas) Consolidated Independent School District will also close out its twentieth year of successfully implementing CEI programs in the district. Edinburg’s partnership with CEI first began after a prominent local child psychologist, the late Dr. Gary Whitworth, recommended the program to the district based on the significant results he had seen in his own daughter’s experience with Essential Learning Systems (ELS).

Edinburg CISD purchased the first 15 elementary ELS labs in the fall of 1992. By 1994, the district had expanded the program’s reach to include five secondary campuses plus two more elementary schools. Since then, the district has continued to grow by leaps and bounds and has consistently added an ELS lab to each new campus as it is built.

Another major expansion came about in 2010 when the Special Education department made the pivotal decision to provide a Mathematical Learning Systems (MLS) lab to every campus in the district. The 2011-2012 year found ECISD now consisting of 31 elementary schools, six middle schools, three high schools, and two alternative campuses, together covering 945 square miles and serving over 33,000 students in total. With every school having both ELS and MLS, the district now has 84 labs in operation and 2,550 students using CEI software.

Edinburg’s

When it comes to the ELS program, facilitator Delia Lane has seen many wonderful changes in the past 20 years. Ms. Lane was among the first Edinburg CISD staff members trained on the ELS program in the fall of 1992. She laughs when remembering the days she was the L.B. Johnson Elementary CEI facilitator and thinking about how different things were. Everything from floppy disks to the need for Double Talk boxes has changed. “Even the word lists are easier to read now, and development of the on-demand printing feature for worksheets has saved many trips to the photocopier,” Ms. Lane said. In 1999, Ms. Lane transferred to Treviño Elementary and got right to work managing the CEI lab for her new campus. Today she can still be found checking Copy-Write worksheets, listening to Fluency Passages, and correcting word pronunciations with as much patience and care as ever before. More than half of the students she serves with ELS are in Kindergarten through second grade as part of Treviño’s early intervention plan. “Just give me time with them,” she said, “because I know [ELS] works, and most of the teachers know it works, too. I like that I get to relieve the teachers for a while so that they can work more closely with the students left in the classroom while the CEI group comes to me.” Ms. Lane sometimes jokes about the effect that ELS has had on her personally. “I warn people that I only speak in little ELS words now after 20 years of hearing the same words over and over every day!” Nevertheless, Ms. Lane acknowledges that running an ELS lab correctly is not an easy job, and she is sometimes very tired by the end of the day. She laughed as she recalled a particularly telling incident. “I remember once when I was really tired, one student was standing at my table to complete Word Meaning Review,” Ms. Lane said. “The student proceeded to give me the identical definition for each word. He said, ‘Mop. You know, when you mop somebody. Sop. You know, when you sop somebody.’ It took until almost

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Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine www.ceilearning.com Spring/Summer 2012

Longtime Edinburg CISD facilitator Delia Lane (far right) with fourth grade MLS students

the end of the list before I realized that he had given the same meaning for every word, and not one of them made sense!” Thinking back, Ms. Lane remembers some specific students who struggled in the lab but learned to succeed under her guidance. One such student was a boy named Adrian, the son of the school counselor, Dorina Paige. “Adrian was with me from second to fifth grade, and he would get so mad when he had to recycle lessons,” Ms. Lane recalled. “But we kept at it. I worked with his mother, and we made sure he was able to succeed.” Today, Mrs. Paige is still the counselor at Treviño, and she has very positive words regarding the CEI lab. “I think the real reason Adrian and the other students liked the lab was because of Ms. Lane,” attested Mrs. Paige. My son always had to really apply himself in school because of his dyslexia, but


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the lab helped boost his self-esteem and find better ways to study. He was able to finish, and that’s what is important.” Adrian went on to excel in drama productions and various athletic programs, eventually graduating from Edinburg High School in 2007. After high school, he went even further to study kinesiology and biology, graduating from the University of Texas – Pan American in Edinburg. He is currently applying for jobs in the Edinburg CISD, which would certainly bring his educational accomplishments full-circle. Of Adrian and the other students she has served throughout the years, Ms. Lane has learned that one idea holds true. “Students surprise us sometimes. They become great things that we never expected.” In 2010, Ms. Lane got the opportunity to experience even more of those transformations when she took on the additional responsibility of running the new MLS program at Treviño. These days you will find her hurrying between the classrooms, picking up and dropping off students for CEI, not only during school hours, but also before and after the day officially begins and ends. Though schedules can be chaotic, Ms. Lane takes it all in stride and with a consistent smile on her face. “I just love it!” she beamed. On the other side of the sprawling Edinburg CISD, veteran kindergarten teacher Gloria Ayala, who has taught for 49 years, has seen a variety of teaching methods and intervention programs come and go over the years. Impressively, Ms. Ayala has nothing but praise for the ELS program at Melissa D. Betts Elementary. Like most Edinburg schools, Betts receives an overwhelming number of new students each year who arrive with very limited proficiency in English, in addition to the average array of learning disabilities and at-risk conditions. Under these circumstances, it becomes all the more crucial to apply an early-intervention model as the Betts administrators have done in order to get these students on track for success as quickly as possible. “Why wait for the students to show that they have a serious problem?” Ms. Ayala said. “Let’s work with them now, so we can avoid having students in the upper grades who are unable to read.” Facilitator Josie Tanamachi agrees. “If you already know that the foundation of a house is crooked and has holes, then you can’t just continue building on it. You can try making patches to fix the little things, but the big problem will still be there. In the same way, we must go back to the foundational skills that our students are missing and fix them the right way.” From her many years as a facilitator, Ms. Tanamachi knows that CEI’s programs are perfect for filling in the basic foundational skills that, when missing or underdeveloped, prevent students from being able to learn like their peers. One such student is Lesliee Vera-Colima. Lesliee started attending the CEI lab in 2007, when she was a pre-kindergartner. At that time, she was not even able to speak the most basic of words. After spending two years in Gloria Ayala’s kindergarten class, Lesliee was on the verge of being labeled for Special Education. Remarkably, by the end of her first grade year in 2011, Lesliee tested on grade level according to the Diagnostic Screening Test: Reading (DST:R) administered by Mrs. Tanamachi. Now in second grade, Lesliee is one of the more active readers in her class and is nearing 200 points in the school’s Accelerated Reader program. Her

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Betts Elementary kindergarten teacher Gloria Ayala with Lesliee Vera-Colima

favorite books are about earthquakes and other science topics. Science is very important to all students, but perhaps more so to Lesliee, as she is proudly helping to raise a flock of chickens at her home. Anyway you look at it, as Ms. Tanamachi says, “Her progress has been amazing — she is the very definition of a CEI success story.” Ms. Ayala is also pleased and impressed with the carryover in learning that she sees after students attend Ms. Tanamachi’s lab. “My students always come back from the CEI lab excited to show me what they have learned, and the others are always asking when it is their turn to go to CEI,” Ms. Ayala said. “The three students who are being served this year are already making great progress, and I had initially thought that they would have to be retained! This program helps my students gain their self-concept and a positive attitude toward school at an early age.” Fifth-grade students Annaly Aguilar, Marco Solis, and Arturo Garza-Diaz are three more of the many students who benefited from the CEI services Betts Elementary provided to them at an early age. Each of the three came to the lab at least two years below grade level in reading, in addition to being Limited English Proficient. Teamwork between Betts teachers like Ms. Ayala and CEI facilitator Josie Tanamachi provided the boost that was needed to close the learning gap for these students. All three of these fifth graders are now either reading on the appropriate grade level or are extremely close to that goal. They will be well-equipped to take on the challenges of middle school next year. Continued on page 14

(Left to Right) Annaly Aguilar, Marco Solis, Arturo GarzaDiaz, and Betts Elementary facilitator Josie Tanamachi

Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine Celebrating 25 years of making a difference

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continued from page 13

Edinburg’s

Future Although the ECISD Mathematical Learning Systems labs are still in their first full year of operation, the program is now poised to help Edinburg students with math in the same way that the Essential Learning Systems labs has helped them with reading for 20 years. District wide, over 1,200 students are currently benefiting from the extra math assistance MLS provides. Several of those students come from Cavazos Elementary School. Cavazos has been deemed Exemplary by the Texas Education Agency for the past six years. As the principal of this Exemplary campus, Sandra Guerra knows what it takes to instill success, especially when it comes to her CEI labs. Ms. Guerra acknowledges, “The key to a successful lab is consistency. My CEI facilitator is someone I don’t pull out for all kinds of other duties because he needs to be there and know his stuff. In my case, Mr. Felipe Hernandez is very motivated to run a good lab for the sake of the students’ individual successes.”

Dr. Graciela Perez, principal at Lorenzo De Zavala Elementary, agrees. “If I had to use one word to describe the reason for our success with the CEI program, I would say it is consistency. Consistency of the implementation of the CEI program as it was meant to be used. Consistency of the delivery of services to our students on a daily basis. Consistency of the commitment of our CEI personnel to provide the best service to our students. Finally, the consistency of the monitoring and support for the CEI program and our students from the campus principal,” Dr. Perez explained. That consistency has helped De Zavala earn CEI’s Exemplary status 13 years in a row. Implementing the MLS program with consistency among such a diverse set of campuses has required close supervision from district administrators as well. Special Education Director Alida Suarez, Special Education Supervisor Socorro Sandoval, and district Math Specialist Irene Valdez have played an invaluable role in the labs this year by providing direction, supplies, and much-needed encouragement to all involved.

Edinburg Special Education Supervisor Socorro Sandoval and Special Education Director Alida Suarez

“The kids need the basics to succeed,” explained Ms. Sandoval. “Once they have those solid skills at the beginning of each year, then they will truly be ready for what we need to teach them.”

Speaking The Language of Success By Susan Keith, solutions Analyst

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even years ago a young girl from Mexico moved with her family to Lingleville, Texas. Elaine Carpenter, facilitator of the Essential Learning Systems (ELS) lab at Lingleville School, recalls meeting the new student, Ana Villagomez. “Ana spoke little English, and she had a limited educational background,” Ms. Carpenter said.  Because she knew so little English, Ana was placed in the fifth grade English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and was recommended for a place in the school’s ELS lab.  It was there that Ana, obviously bright and eager to learn, was provided the tools she needed to acquire the English language and become a fluent reader. “Ana worked hard and her efforts paid off,” Ms. Carpenter said, adding that Ana remained in the ELS lab for four years and entered high school not

only having caught up with her peers, but also excelling in all her studies.   “Since starting high school, she has made the A Honor Roll every year!” Ms. Carpenter reported proudly. “She has also won numerous Outstanding Student awards and is a member of the National Honor Society.” This year Ana will graduate third in her class with a Grade Point Average of 3.81.  She plans to attend college to pursue a career in the medical field.  Ana says she believes that the CEI program opened the door to learning for her. Both Elaine and Lingleville’s former facilitator, Marilyn Pack, agree that Ana Villagomez is an excellent example of the success that is possible with Essential Learning Systems.

Ana Villagomez

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Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine www.ceilearning.com Spring/Summer 2012


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ELS vital to success of Floresville Graduates

By Connee Stine, solutions specialist

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aren Work has been the facilitator at Floresville North Elementary School, formerly called Floresville Elementary, since 1996. “Throughout my many years of teaching, I have watched many students use this wonderful program to become strong and fluent readers, as well as successful learners!” Karen said. Hunter Burkett is one of the students who stands out in Karen’s mind as having had especially significant long-term success because of the Essential Learning Systems (ELS) program. “Hunter was in my first CEI Lab class back in ’96,” she said. “Hunter is currently a senior at the University of the Incarnate Word [UIW] in San Antonio, Texas, and he is on track to graduate in May 2012 with a major in Meteorology and a minor in Math,” Karen proudly reported, adding that his parents, Homer and Pam, are also extremely proud of him. “Besides going to school full-time, Hunter is the treasurer of the Meteorology Club at UIW and works part-time for a local air conditioning company. His commitment to our community is also evidenced by his service as Captain of the Floresville Fire Department volunteer firefighters,” she added. Although he was a struggling reader at the time, Hunter values what he gleaned from the ELS lab program. “Learning to read was vital to my success, and this program helped me overcome the challenges that I faced with reading,” Hunter said. Another special student, Nathan Menchaca, was in the Floresville ELS Lab from third grade through sixth grade. “In third grade, it was discovered that I am dyslexic,” Nathan recalled. “However, with a great amount of help, I have learned to read and cope with this issue. Learning to read opened the window of opportunity to a full, successful future, and I am truly grateful for the ability to read.” Nathan is now 22 years old and works full-time at the Toyota manufacturing plant in San Antonio, Texas. Reading is significantly important in Nathan’s work, he said, as he has to read “to know how to deliver the right parts to the right departments at the Toyota plant.” Nathan added, “Reading has also allowed me to understand all the benefits packages offered to me so that I was able to make a choice that fits my needs. I am able to read and understand with minimal difficulty, all due to the help I received in school.” When he is not working for Toyota, Nathan volunteers much of his time at Floresville High School working with the Athletic Department’s trainer, Billy Marshall. Nathan’s parents, Victor and Carol, and Karen all take great pride in Nathan’s accomplishments. Regarding her role in the accomplishments of these two young men, Karen explained, “My belief as a teacher has always been that all students can learn and become successful citizens. I am delighted, honored, and humbled to have been a part of the success stories of many students, including Hunter and Nathan…. I congratulate CEI on being such a valuable learning tool and asset for countless students like them! My wish is that the next 25 years allow CEI to continue making a difference in the lives of students.”

Hunter Burkett as a student in the ELS lab (below)

Hunter Today (right)

Nathan Menchaca as a student in the ELS lab (below)

Nathan Today (right)

Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine Celebrating 25 years of making a difference

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Mission accomplished

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oung people get inspiration from those around them, perhaps most commonly from parents, siblings, friends, and, of course, those special teachers who touch the lives of their students. Homar Gonzales claims he has been inspired by “all of the above,” but he gives special acknowledgment to Frances Whitworth, the CEI lab facilitator who worked with him during his middle school years. Homar, now 23, was first diagnosed with dyslexia when he was in second grade. His parents quickly realized the need to get their son enrolled in a supplemental program that would help him combat this learning problem. Homar’s dad, a teacher in the Edinburg (Texas) Consolidated Independent School District, learned of the CEI lab, so in third grade, Homar was placed in the Essential Learning Systems (ELS) program. Throughout the remainder of grade school, and then later at Harwell Middle School in Edinburg CISD, Homar attended the CEI lab. “I really struggled with both reading and writing,” Homar explained. “Reading was especially difficult because I was constantly trying to deal with the challenges that come with being dyslexic. Through the help of a very special teacher in middle school, I was able to learn how to overcome some of those difficulties.” Frances — now retired — ran the ELS program at Harwell Middle School for more than 15 years. During those years, Frances demonstrated a level of dedication that left an impact on over a thousand students who went through her lab. “Mrs. Whitworth was strict and insisted that every part of the program was followed, but she was also ‘mom-like’ to me,” Homar recalled. “Whenever I had a problem, even with another subject, she took the time to go to my other teachers and explain the kind of help I needed in order to deal with my dyslexia. I am extremely grateful for the help and guidance she gave me.” Homar reminisced about the embarrassment that can come with not being able to read aloud fluently in the classroom. “I always wondered why Mrs. Whitworth insisted on having me read my ELS words aloud,” Homar said. “Now I understand…. Not only did the ELS lab help me to become a better reader, it also helped to build the self-confidence I needed to be successful in life.” The impact that the CEI lab had on Homar’s self-confidence is now being displayed as he passes on that same quality to dozens of children every day through his love of dance. During his fifth grade year, Homar attended a party in which he saw young people perform in a dance team. He recalls that he “instantly fell in love with dance.” Homar’s mother was less enthusiastic about his dance ambitions, but she reluctantly enrolled him in dance lessons at a studio in McAllen, Texas. His ambition was to find a career in dance. Homar continued his dance lessons five years. After high school, he attended South Texas College in McAllen, but his true love remained: dance. Although his parents were still skeptical about his career choice, they eventually acknowledged his passion and his talent, and they realized that he could be a success. Partnering with his sister, Rebeka, Homar formed the Edinburg Folklorico Dance Team.

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By Bonnie Blake, solutions Analyst

As dance instructors for the City of Edinburg, Homar and Rebeka have traveled internationally and have competed on the national level, winning honors and recognition wherever they perform. Homar personally performs with a dance team of 12, but a total of 70-80 students are enrolled in dance classes under his supervision. He has taken part in the Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento show in Los Angeles; danced at a Dallas Cowboys halftime show; performed in Vienna, Austria; and spent two weeks in Blumenau, Brazil, at the German Festival. He continues to practice with his team up to four hours a day. Dedication to a dream is what makes the dream come true, and that has proven true for Homar. “If someone tells you that you can’t do something, prove them wrong,” he advised. Impacting lives in a positive way…. It’s what Frances Whitworth did for middle school students like Homar, and now it’s what Homar is doing for the young dance students he instructs. Together, they have fulfilled the CEI mission “to enable people with educational differences to achieve academic, social and professional success.”

Top Photo: Homar reads his lesson words aloud to facilitator Frances Whitworth. Bottom Photo: Homar (right, kneeling) dances with a member of his dance team.


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A Commitment to Excellence

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inda Carpenter has been the facilitator of the CEI reading lab at Kline Whitis Elementary for the past seven years. As one would expect, many things have changed at Kline Whitis in that amount of time. The school recently transitioned from a Kindergarten through second grade campus to one that houses grades 3 through 5. The school has also purchased both Mathematical Learning Systems (MLS) and Science Vocabulary Essentials (SVE). But while much has changed, much has also remained the same … most notably, Linda’s commitment to excellence. “Linda Carpenter has always been very timely and organized,” said CEI Solutions Analyst B.C. Seely. “She keeps detailed records of her students’ progress and even uses the old Parameter Manager chart to keep up with changes she makes in her students’ lessons.” Because of Linda’s admirable dedication, her lab has earned CEI’s Exemplary status every year. “She once even won $250 worth of CEI promotional supplies through a drawing for schools that had turned in their end-of-year information early,” B.C. noted. Over the past seven years, the lab has had one more constant: achievement. Linda has witnessed many success stories at Kline Whitis during her tenure as facilitator, but three stories in particular have perpetually remained with her…. Jameson Varnado began attending the CEI lab when he was in second grade, and Linda recalls that he was “a struggling student with low confidence.” Thankfully, things have changed significantly since Jameson participated in the lab. “Jameson is a junior now and he is an ‘A honor roll’ student,” Linda said. “He is in the top 10 percent of his class, he’s a member of the National Honor Society, and he participates in baseball and varsity football,” she added. Obviously a go-getter, Jameson has completed the Lampasas High School Teen Leadership course and participated in the school’s one-act play production crew. Additionally, he is currently a dual credit Central Texas College student, according to Linda. “Jameson is taking nine hours and maintaining a 4.0 GPA [grade point average],” Linda said, adding, “He also works part-time and volunteers in the community.” Like Linda, Jameson’s mother, Dawn Varnado, is extremely proud of her son’s achievements and his work ethic. “I know that (Jameson) will continue to be successful in whatever he does because of his hard work and dedication,” Dawn said.

By B.C. Seely, solutions Analyst

Linda describes another very special student, Holly Wilson, as “an unsure second grader who was struggling when she started attending the CEI reading lab nine years ago.” Today, Holly is nearing the end of her junior year at Lampasas High School as a successful, confident and bright student. “Holly maintains a 4.2 GPA while taking some Advanced Placement and some pre-Advanced Placement classes, all while staying very active in the band,” Linda said. “She has competed at the Regional and State Levels in both band and ensemble groups.” Holly’s mother, Stacey Hensiek, attributes her daughter’s success to the dedication of her elementary teachers and to the intervention she received in CEI. “Holly has done very well since her time in the CEI program in primary school,” Stacey said. “I am so thankful for the support she received from Linda throughout her younger years.” Taylor Oestreich began attending the CEI reading lab at Kline Whitis when she was in the second grade. Back then, she was very timid. In fact, she was so timid that she was “scared to read,” Linda recalled. However, after just one short year in the lab, Taylor learned how to decode words and how to read with much greater confidence. Currently a fifth-grader at Lampasas’ Hanna Springs Elementary, Taylor is a successful student and enjoys school. “She is now on the A/B Honor Roll and is reading at grade level,” Linda reportedly proudly. “She loves to read so much that she reads for about 30 minutes before bed every night. In fact, her mother has told me that Taylor would read even longer at bedtime, but they (the parents) force her to turn the lights out!” CEI congratulates Jameson, Holly, and Taylor on their phenomenal successes, both during their times in the CEI lab and in the years since. We know that there are many more highlights to come from these three. With Linda Carpenter facilitating both the ELS and MLS labs at Kline Whitis Elementary, we also know we will hear about many more remarkable students in the future. Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine Celebrating 25 years of making a difference

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Opening Doors to the future

By Laura Byrd, solutions Specialist

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Front row, from left to right: Fabian Fregoso, Tracy Alamaraz, Ashley Garza, Aaron Leal Back Row, Left to Right: Israel Guerra, Facilitator Hilda Ramos, Dyslexia Teacher, Dylan Barletta, Gerardo Cantu.

“Jacob’s enthusiasm for reading grows each day. As his reading skills keep improving, his selfconfidence also does. He has expressed interest in reading and has given me a verbal list of all the books he wants to read. He is now the proud owner of a McAllen Public Libraries card and is a Barnes & Noble member. I believe that reading can open many doors in this life. My heart is filled with joy knowing that Jacob’s world will have access to many of those doors.” 18

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hese were the comments of one happy parent at DeLeon Middle School in McAllen (Texas) ISD. Her son, who is dyslexic, attended Hilda Ramos’ Essential Learning Systems (ELS) lab in 2009. That experience changed his whole attitude about reading. Hilda has received other letters from parents through the years. In fact, in her 15-year career as the dyslexia teacher at DeLeon Middle School, she has worked with over 260 students on the ELS program and has seen many of her students add to their success stories throughout their high school years. “It has been a wonderful experience,” Hilda said. “I’ve learned a lot about reading disabilities and especially dyslexia.” She says she has learned that to be a successful reading teacher, a person must have a great deal of tolerance. “You must combine a lot of structure with a warm and caring attitude,” Hilda explained. “When you work so closely with students on a daily basis, you really build solid relationships with them.” Hilda continues, “I like to get to know each student’s strengths. These are usually very evident…. Some students have excellent social skills. Some are great in art or drama. In the CEI lab, where students are working on areas of struggle, I try to be a great encourager of them being themselves and celebrating who they are.” Hilda says she really appreciates the automatic positive feedback given by the ELS program: “I believe the dyslexic students in my lab need that personal monitoring, as well as the motivation it provides.” Good educators know that making subject matter relevant to students’ lives is important, and Hilda has worked hard over the years to build a lot of relevance into her lab. “Sometimes kids really don’t see how they will use some of the vocabulary that they learn in the ELS program,” Hilda explained. “To prove that the words really are useful in everyday life, I created an ‘ELS Word Wall’ in my room. On this bulletin board, I post newspaper articles or headlines that include some of the ‘obscure’ words that students are excited to recognize because of their time using the ELS program.” Another extra measure Hilda takes for her students is to have special speakers come in to motivate the them from time to time. “After one local attorney spoke to my class, he gave me the chance to try out his red Ferrari in the parking lot,” Hilda said. That was a fun day for everyone!” Unfortunately for DeLeon Middle School, this will be Hilda’s last year as the dyslexia teacher. She is retiring in order to have more time to travel and watch her son pitch for the Laredo Junior College baseball team. Hilda admits that as the end of the year gets closer, she is already beginning to get separation anxiety for her classroom and students. “A lot of fun and hard work is wrapped up in this lab, and it will be difficult to leave,” she said. “I know that the dyslexia students at DeLeon will always be close to my heart,” Hilda said, adding, “I plan to come back and substitute when needed.” After all, once a CEI facilitator, always a CEI facilitator.


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Upwardly Mobile

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f “bookmobiles” are a familiar concept, then the idea of a CEI vehicle may be imaginable. Joy Ramirez got her unique initiation as an Essential Learning Systems (ELS) facilitator in 1997. About five years previous, Laurie Davenport, who was the secondary dyslexia teacher for McAllen ISD at the time, began driving an RV classroom containing the CEI reading program. Laurie made her way around the city to each high school and middle school campus, taking her designated parking spot and hooking up connections so that students could go out to the RV to do their daily ELS sessions. In 1997 Joy took over the mobile CEI route, knowing nothing about the ELS program. “Laurie was a fantastic facilitator … so creative and engaged with the students,” Joy said. “She was so enthusiastic about the ELS program and what it did for the students that she lived and breathed the program.” By contrast, Joy had what she calls “a lot of skepticism.” She believed the effectiveness of the lab was overwhelmingly due to the facilitator, not the program itself. “The first year that I did the program and got these amazing results, I thought, ‘Okay, so it worked this time, but it was a fluke,’” Joy recalled. However, year after year of seeing dramatic, life-changing results in the students has convinced Joy that the ELS program is exactly what students need to overcome their learning difficulties. “I have read articles about the research on dyslexia, and the studies all still point to a therapeutic approach like CEI’s Essential Learning Systems uses to correct students’ faulty sensory processing,” Joy said. “Through the ELS program, we are giving them exactly what they need.” Although the CEI RV has been permanently parked and each school now has its own ELS classroom, Joy still travels to the McAllen high schools — McAllen High School, Nikki Rowe High School, Lamar Academy, and Memorial High School. As she thinks back over the years she has spent at multiple campuses and the many students with whom she has worked, Joy has far too many stories to recount in one SHARE article. But she says she knows the stories, and she knows they chronicle lives that were completely changed — some of students who decided not to drop out of school after all, and many of students who have even gone on to higher education — in large part due to the help they received through the ELS program. Working with gang members has not been unusual for Joy. “When students struggle with reading and learning, they can easily turn to other activities, some of them not positive,” she explained. Nevertheless, Joy reports that she has seen the ELS program “give other meaning and purpose to students when they realize they can learn and succeed,” adding, “I know for a fact that I can think of many students who stayed in school because of ELS. It gives many students their first taste of success in learning and encourages them to keep trying. “One boy desperately needed the program,” Joy recalled. “He was severely dyslexic and was a member of a gang…. He

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Many years have passed since McAllen ISD first implemented the Essential Learning Systems program to help its population of dyslexic students. For the 25th Anniversary issue of SHARE Magazine, Joy Ramirez had a great time reminiscing about the program’s history in McAllen, including the success stories of a few of the hundreds of students with whom she has worked. Joy currently serves as ELS facilitator at four McAllen high schools, and she previously did so for several middle schools. had tattoos representing the number of violent acts he had committed.” Eventually, through a series of events, including his being diagnosed as dyslexic, this boy was placed in the ELS lab at his school. “He began reading fluently and learning like never before, and his whole life turned around,” Joy said, adding that she kept in contact with him until he moved from the area. Another student, Sandy, credits the ELS program and Joy with enabling her to pass the TAKS [Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills] tests and get the exit scores she needed to graduate high school. “Sandy is now a college student who is studying to become a teacher,” Joy said. “It is very rewarding when these students still send e-mails updating me on their progress and successes in life.” Joy thinks of yet another student who is currently using the ELS program and who struggles with comprehension. Continued on page 20

Joy Ramirez in 1997 with an ELS student outside the mobile lab

Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine Celebrating 25 years of making a difference

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Upwardly Mobile, continued from page 19

“His long-term memory is very poor,” Joy said. “He has been working on the ELS program for three years and plans to graduate next year. I know he can make it, and he will be the first in his family to graduate high school. He has big ambitions to go on to study at South Texas College. “I had one particular student who was very successful in school despite having been diagnosed as dyslexic,” Joy said. “She did the CEI program her senior year in high school to give her an extra edge at passing the college entrance exam. She later told me that when she took the college exam, a lot of the vocabulary from the ELS program helped her pass the test. Even though she graduated in the Top 10 of her class, she still felt that the ELS program was vital to her success.” Over the years, Joy has loved watching students make progress on the ELS program, and she has also enjoyed observing the improvements that the ELS program itself has undergone. “The updates and improvements that come out each year just make the program better and easier to use,” Joy said. “It is great to work with a company that perceives the needs of facilitators and students and that strives to just get better and better.” McAllen ISD’s old CEI RV is no longer moving from campus to campus, and that’s fine. The important thing is, its lack of mobility

Joy ramirez in one of her els labs today

cannot stop the students of McAllen from “going places,” and Joy Ramirez has helped see to that.

What Goes Around, Comes Around By Laura Byrd, solutions Specialist

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hen a facilitator works with a dyslexic student on the Essential Learning Systems (ELS) program, she never quite knows how that student will feel about his time in the lab. Becky Williams, ELS facilitator at Morris Middle School in McAllen, Texas, has a pretty good idea, though. Many years later, a former student is helping to keep his old ELS lab up and running. Becky remembers Ryan “Ty” Johnson as a quiet, hardworking boy. “He and a friend would come in after school for help on different school subjects,” Becky recalled. That quiet, hardworking boy has become one of several technicians serving the McAllen schools, including his old middle school CEI lab. After being diagnosed as dyslexic during his sixth grade year, Ryan began using the ELS program. He now remembers Mrs. Williams in the ELS lab as his favorite teacher, and he says he values the time he spent on the program. “I had a lot of difficulty with spelling and identifying word patterns, and that affected every other class in school,” Ryan said. “I know

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that the (ELS) lab program helped make me a better, more fluent reader…. I know my confidence level went way up, and I began to enjoy all of my classes more. I also enjoyed reading books much more,” he noted. Ryan was interested in computers, even in middle school. Once he moved on to high school, he was able to take computer-oriented classes, eventually becoming an A+ certified technician before graduation. From there, he spent one year in technical college and eventually went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Technology Management. Ryan believes that working in ELS, including doing the various typing activities and especially Copy-Write, helped him in college. “Proofreading that worksheet and reading it out loud were skills I really used in college,” he said. Would Ryan recommend the program to students today? “Sure!” Ryan offers emphatically. “I would explain that the long-term goal of having good reading skills is important. It sets you up for the rest of your studies.” Ryan also encourages struggling students not to give up or quit. “There is help here (with ELS) and it really does work,” he said.

Today, Ryan “Ty” Johnson (Left) helps Becky Williams keep her ELS Lab running.

People often say, “What goes around, comes around.” In this case, that is an accurate and positive statement. “Mrs. Williams was my favorite teacher…. She was always here, willing to help with whatever I needed,” Ryan said. “It’s neat that I am here for her now, helping her keep the lab updated and running.”


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ne of 2011’s biggest movies was The Help. The film received four Oscar nominations and scored a Best Supporting Actress win for Octavia Spencer. Although the story was set in Jackson, Mississippi, movie and trivia buffs might be interested to know that The Help was actually filmed primarily in Greenwood. Local hotels provide maps and interesting trivia tidbits for tourists who are enamored with the film and want to see the houses and streets involved in the filming. Coincidentally, Greenwood is also the home of Pillow Academy, an independent college preparatory school, where an entirely different “help” is in place. It’s called Essential Learning Systems, or ELS. And although ELS is not as famous as the movie called The Help, thousands of people across the USA know how their lives have been impacted positively by the therapeutic approach — the help — of ELS. “When talking to parents of former students who have finished the (ELS) program, we find that in most instances they (the students) have developed an enjoyment, if not a love, for reading that they did not have before ELS,” said Adrian Tribble, long-time ELS facilitator for Pillow Academy. “They are also able to study and work independently. This speaks so highly of the ELS program and how the exercises work and can help our students improve in so many areas of learning, not only in the classroom, but also outside of the classroom.” Mrs. Tribble continued, “When Pillow initially purchased the ELS program for its curriculum, it was intended to be used for reading comprehension. Over the years, however, we have found that ELS helps in many other areas of learning. We have seen disorganized students become organized, nonverbal students become verbal, illegible handwriting become legible, and numerous instances of the building of self-confidence and self-esteem…. It is amazing to see how far a little self-confidence can take a student.” Mrs. Tribble is currently completing her eighteenth year of working with the program. “I am so blessed to be able to say that after 18 years of working in our ELS lab, I still enjoy getting up and coming to work each day,” she said. “Hopefully, I can put a smile on a child’s face and make a difference in our students’ classroom successes.” Two current high schoolers have experienced Mrs. Tribble’s help firsthand during their earlier years at Pillow Academy, and they agreed to share their stories for CEI’s 25th Anniversary. Alex Kelly is about to complete her ninth grade year at Pillow Academy, and she is doing well in school, making A’s and B’s. Her mother, Julie Kelly, remembers when things were significantly different for Alex and why she decided to put Alex into the ELS lab. “Alex did not like reading at all,” Mrs. Kelly explained. “My goal was to see (her) confidence in reading improve, as well as her organizational skills.” Alex started the ELS program in third grade and continued it through seventh grade. Mrs. Tribble remembers when Alex joined the lab as a third grader. “Alex showed a lack of organizational skills, a lack of reading comprehension skills, and a lack of self-confidence in oral reading,” Mrs. Tribble recalled. “Thankfully, she was an easy student to work with…. She always had a smile on her face and was enthusiastic about coming to the lab.” “I am so blessed that Pillow Academy offers the ELS lab,” Mrs. Kelly said. “Alex began to bloom as a confident reader once she had begun the program. “ELS is an invaluable tool for a struggling reader, and Alex is the perfect example,” Mrs. Kelly continued. “She was actually sad when

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ALEX KELLY was a Third grader (Bottom photo) when she began working on ELS.

Today (right), Alex is about to finish her Ninth grade year at Pillow Academy,

she completed all of the levels and was no longer able to go. Now she is very confident in her ability to do her own schoolwork. Her dad and I are very proud of her accomplishments thus far.” Mrs. Tribble agrees about the positive impact the ELS program had on Alex. “She showed much improvement in being able to stay on task and finish the work she started each day. Her self-confidence was greatly improved, and her reading scores also increased,” she said. Alex plays soccer and says algebra is her favorite school subject. She plans to attend the University of Mississippi after high school. With that significant goal in mind, she recognizes the value of the foundational help she received in the ELS lab. “My biggest challenges were my grades and struggling to pay attention,” Alex said. “I am doing well in school now…. It helped my reading a lot.” Alex is just one of many students who have had their potential maximized by the ELS program at Pillow Academy. Another is Mary Dudley Pillow. Like Alex, Mary Dudley is a freshman at Pillow Academy and remembers her time in the ELS lab fondly. “I was in the lab during first through sixth grades and completed the whole (ELS) program,” Mary Dudley said. “Prizes were a great motivation, and I had wonderful lab teachers. ELS helped me learn to check my work.” Mary Dudley’s mother, Kim Pillow, was glad to have the opportunity to have her daughter in the ELS lab. “Mary Dudley had A’s and B’s when she started the program,” Mrs. Pillow said. “She needed assistance with writing skills, word mastery, reading comprehension, confidence, and spelling. She also consistently made careless errors. Our goal for Mary Dudley was her long-term educational success. She started (working in ELS) in first grade, which I think was a key to her success.” Mary Dudley remembers struggling in her early years of school. “I was having trouble with math, spelling, and reading comprehension,” Mary Dudley said. “I always worked too fast and never checked my work.” Continued on page 22 Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine Celebrating 25 years of making a difference

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greenwood, continued from page 21

When Mary Dudley Pillow started ELS (bottom photo), she struggled in her classes

Today (Left), Mary Dudley is a ninth grader making straight a’s on her report card,

Facilitator Adrian Tribble remembers those days. “Mary Dudley lacked the skills needed for reading comprehension, and she also had trouble with keeping her materials organized. We were able to help her focus and to stay focused,” Mrs. Tribble said. “She was easy to work with and very pleasant … consistently eager to do her best and with a smile on her face.” Mary Dudley’s mom appreciates what the ELS program did for her child. “It was always a part of her elementary years…. ELS helped her confidence,” Mrs. Dudley said. “It also helped improve her achievement test scores, especially in reading. It challenged

Family Ties

her to stay on task, improved her comprehension and listening, her neatness in handwriting, her understanding of word meanings, and her short- and long-term memory. The lab teachers also encouraged her to read all summer long.” “Since Pillow Academy is a college prep school, we try to get our students to finish the ELS program,” Mrs. Tribble explained. “This is not always feasible, since we do charge a fee for students to attend, but most of our students are able to finish if they start early enough.” “It was a great experience,” Mrs. Pillow said. “Mary Dudley, now a ninth grader, just finished her nine weeks tests, and she made 96 or above on each one. She has made all A’s on her report cards through eighth and ninth grades, and she works independently, with no help from home,” she added proudly. “I am now doing great in school,” Mary Dudley agreed. “My eighth and ninth grade years have been the best…. I have gained self-confidence. I was glad to attend ELS. It was hard at times, but in the long run, it was all worth it. I think it is very important to stay with the whole program and not quit.” Mary Dudley says that her favorite school subjects are biology and algebra. She also enjoys riding horses, painting, seeing movies, shopping, participating in church activities, babysitting, running track, and playing soccer. After completing high school, Mary Dudley hopes to go to Mississippi State University or Louisiana State University. “My options for college are still open…. I would love to be in the medical field,” Mary Dudley said. “A lot of jobs seem like they would be fun for me.” As CEI celebrates 25 years of making a difference for struggling students, we applaud Adrian Tribble for her role as an ELS facilitator over the past 18 years. Regardless of the specific college and career choices Alex and Mary Dudley make, we are confident that the help they received from the Mrs. Tribble’s ELS lab is with them to stay.

By Laura Byrd, solutions Specialist

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ast year at this time, CEI’s SHARE Magazine brought readers the story of Julie Byrd, who was soon to graduate from Sharyland High School in Mission, Texas. Julie was born hearing impaired and had a very difficult time learning to read, partly because of the auditory stimulation that she missed as a baby. CEI is now proud to give you this update: Julie graduated from Sharyland High School with honors and is doing very well as a freshman at The University of Texas-Pan American, where she is majoring in art and education. Remembering her own past struggles, Julie has taken a real interest in reading books about dyslexia and understanding how the brain processes the information it receives. Julie’s mom, Laura Byrd, is the CEI Solutions Specialist in the Rio Grande Valley and, keeping it all in the family, Julie’s older sister, Valerie, is now the Solutions Analyst serving the Edinburg CISD. “We are so thankful for CEI and the many ways it has impacted our family,” Laura said. “The company itself is such a caring group of people who are all there for the students we serve. It’s great to work with people who have a common goal of seeing students succeed academically who might otherwise have struggled all their lives. “In our own family, we have personally experienced the success CEI brings, and now we are having a great time spreading that success here in the Rio Grande Valley,” Laura added.

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Julie Byrd, a 2011 graduate of Sharyland High school and a current freshman at the University of Texas - Pan American, experienced remarkable success with Essential Learning Systems (ELS). Julie’s experience with ELS eventually led to her mother and her sister joining the CEI team as solutions analysts.


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Pressing on toward the goal

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principal in South Texas recently commented on why she uses her Essential Learning Systems (ELS) program to reach all struggling first graders. She said, “I have decided that a program like ELS is best when used for prevention before intervention.” This principal, like many others using CEI’s programs, has discovered that students who are not reached at an early age have a much more difficult time closing the learning gap later. At St. Bernadette School in Evergreen Park, Illinois, Sister Mary Ventura has made this same discovery. Her ELS lab serves students of all ages, including many adults, but she knows that the earlier they are caught, the better. Fifteen years ago, Sister Mary enrolled a struggling first grade student into her ELS lab. Seven-year-old Gregory Roszczybiuk was having trouble keeping up with his classmates and struggling with identifying simple words and patterns. Today, Gregory (“Greg”) is a successful 22-year-old college senior, heading for a bright future. “Anyone who has ever worked with the ELS program knows that it is a program that can provide the solution to a child’s learning problems,” said CEI Solutions Analyst Bonnie Blake, “but the program is only as good as the dedicated facilitator behind it. Gregory was blessed to have Sister Mary as his facilitator.” Gregory says he recognizes that he has achieved success in life largely because of the time he spent using the ELS program, and he is quick to give credit to Sister Mary for her encouragement and her dedication to running the program with fidelity. Gregory recalls, “Sister Mary drove this into my mind on a daily basis: ‘A person can always be successful if he just puts his mind to it. There is nothing you cannot accomplish, nothing that can hold you back, and no obstacle that can stand in your way.’ With that kind of encouragement, I began to believe that I could accomplish anything, no matter what!” After finishing his grade-school years at St. Bernadette’s, Greg went on to attend Brother Rice High School, a Catholic College Preparatory campus administered under the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. When a student enrolls at Brother Rice, he commits himself to four years of theology courses and 10 hours of community service each semester. In addition to classes and community service, Greg took on several leadership roles, ran on the track team all four years, became an active member of National Honor Society, and graduated with honors. After high school, Greg was accepted at Loyola University, Chicago’s Jesuit Catholic

Greg Roszczybiuk, pictured at bottom left with St. Bernadette facilitator Sister Mary Ventura and today (right) as a senior at Chicago’s Loyola University.

University. Loyola’s website describes the university as “a diverse community seeking God in all things and working to expand knowledge in the service of humanity through learning, justice, and faith.” Greg has become fully involved in that community. Now in his senior year at Loyola, he has been named to the Dean’s List, has started numerous campus clubs, participates in two fraternities (one service and one social), and has participated in fundraising events in the fight to cure cancer. He is currently interviewing for summer internships with companies like Microsoft and is on track to graduate in December of 2012 with a degree in Business Finance. “With the drive and desire Greg possesses, there’s no telling just how far he’ll go in life,” Bonnie said. “He is truly an ELS success story.” As a former lab facilitator, Bonnie has played a role in several ELS success stories. Because of her experiences, she understands that perseverance is crucial to how a child’s future plays out. “I know there are days when the pressures can wear a person down, and you might even wonder if what you are doing is really making a difference.” Bonnie continues, “But if we could look into a crystal ball and see a child’s future, it would be wonderful to see a successful adult contributing his or her talents to society. Remember this favorite expression of a dear friend of mine: ‘Keep on keeping on’ and never give up on a child.” CEI would like to thank all of our ELS and MLS lab facilitators for the perseverance they show every day they enter the lab. We hope you all have the same opportunity that Sister Mary has had with Greg … the opportunity to look back and see the role you played in your students’ successes.

Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine Celebrating 25 years of making a difference

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a gift that money can’t buy

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ue to a serious health crisis early in her life, the prognosis for Amanda Demel’s future was grim. Undaunted, her family and friends chose not to accept what the “experts” had predicted, and instead surrounded this innocent child with love, encouragement and expectations of success in her developmental skills. As a result, Amanda progressed even beyond the hopes of those closest to her. She tackled what most might have described as impossible. Ultimately, she has worked her way into a career of providing service to other struggling children and their families today. As a child, Amanda participated in the CEI program at Whiteface (Texas) Independent School District (ISD), located west of Lubbock. CEI’s flagship reading program, Essential Learning Systems (ELS), provided motivational feedback to Amanda as she worked through the lessons designed to improve her vocabulary and comprehension skills. “Amanda grew in confidence because of the repetition and practice within the program,” said Peggy Johnson, one of Amanda’s former lab facilitators, who now serves as Professional Development Manager for CEI. “Amanda never gave up…. She persevered until she was a fluent reader,” Peggy recalled. Faculty and students who knew Amanda during those years were inspired by Amanda’s determination to learn, and the inspiration continues today. After completing requirements for graduation at Whiteface ISD, Amanda attended Eastern New Mexico University and graduated in 2003. Amanda says her future plans include writing a book to honor those who have encouraged her in life. Upon learning that CEI is celebrating its 25th anniversary, Amanda recalled, “ELS sure helped me…. My reading and comprehension skills improved from the lessons in ELS.” She also discussed how the program strenghtened her confidence and encouraged her to persevere until she achieved success, a mindset instilled in her by her brothers. Amanda’s favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. One of the well-known passages from that novel states, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…un­til you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Amanda knows very well what it is like to struggle against all odds, but she also knows it is a worthwhile struggle. Now an adult, she has chosen a career of service to children and families who may be struggling as she did. An employee of South Plains Community Action in Morton, Texas, Amanda is a Lead Teacher for Head Start. As described on the Head Start website (http://www.txhsa.org/About.html), the organization is “the most successful, longest-running, national school readiness program in the United States” and “provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families.” Amanda truly believes in the philosophy of Head Start. Currently, she has children six weeks to 18 months old under her care, and part of the daily plans include a time to read to the little

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Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine www.ceilearning.com Spring/Summer 2012

By Peggy Johnson, Professional Development Manager

With a combination of perseverance, dedicated teachers, and the help of

ELS, Amanda, a 2003 graduate of Whiteface high school, conquered her learning difficulties. Now, as a lead teacher for head start, amanda shares her love for reading with her own students.

ones, since she says she recognizes that “reading is vital to their futures.” Amanda also uses her talents outside the classes by teaching three- and four-year-olds in her church and participating in fundraising efforts for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “Exceptional perseverance, devotion, and encouragement have been evident throughout Amanda’s rich life,” Peggy said. “Her future is bright because she continues to create avenues of service to others. She does not judge; rather, she is considerate of the families she serves. If she senses a need, she presents available resources to the families to meet those needs.” Peggy admits to being a very proud former ELS facilitator for Amanda. “I know that Amanda is a blessing to the children and families whom she serves,” Peggy said. “She practices sympathy, understanding, determination and perseverance, and she appreciates human goodness. Learning from Amanda is a gift that money can’t buy!”


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Renowned philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “The future influences the present just as much as the past.” At CEI, we agree. As we review the successes of the past 25 years, it’s almost inevitable that we think about what the next 25 years might offer. As we ponder the possibilities, we begin to hope that our partners follow the lead of Texas’ Killeen Independent School District (ISD), which has implemented CEI programs on many of the district’s campuses to ensure future academic, social, and professional success for its students. Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine Celebrating 25 years of making a difference

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“Having one tool to reach so many struggling students was a g that most of these students had learning disabilities, the growt

Phyllis Hill, Executive Director for Elem

Clear Creek

Elementary Because of Texas’ continued public school budget cuts over the past few years, many of our school administrators have had to scale back the number of interventions they are using. One principal, however, has done the complete opposite. In addition to continuing to use both Essential Learning Systems (ELS) and Mathematical Learning Systems (MLS), Maryann Ramos, principal of Killeen’s Clear Creek Elementary, has added not only stations, but also programs. “CEI has consistently showed the value of its products through the positive academic growth my students demonstrate after they are on ELS and MLS,” Ms. Ramos explained. At the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, as a result of this growth, Ms. Ramos added 23 stations of ELS and 23 stations of MLS to her labs and purchased CEI’s Science Vocabulary Essentials (SVE). Under the supervision of Title I Reading Interventionist Erin Jas and Computer Aide Stephani Wood, the ELS and MLS labs serve a total of 170 students. The students come from all grades, first through fifth, because they are either struggling in reading or showing deficits in their math skills. Ms. Ramos assigned Stephani to the lab during the 2010-2011 school year. To familiarize herself with the lab, Stephani not only attended initial facilitator training, but she also spoke with several other district personnel and reported, “Teachers who have worked in CEI labs on other campuses believe in it and the progress it accomplishes.” Stephani feels that the students are so successful on the programs because both ELS and MLS provide “consistent practice in a variety of presentations.” She adds, “Plus, the students love seeing their [MLS] stars!” Stephani recently asked the students why they thought MLS helped them so much on their math skills. One group of children told her “they did not ‘get’ regrouping until MLS. Now they can do it.” CEI Solutions Analyst B.C. Seely and Client Support Manager Lesley Mullen feel that Stephani is just being modest. Lesley explained, “Any CEI Solutions Analyst will tell you that a program is only as good as its facilitator. Stephani is living proof of that.” Lesley continued, “The first time I visited Stephani’s lab, she was standing in front of her students conducting an orientation so they would know how to use the programs. She follows CEI’s recommendations, and more importantly, she emails any time she has a concern about one of the students. It’s that dedication to procedure and personal sense of caring that make her and her students so successful.” Erin Jas joined the lab at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year. Her presence has continued to make the lab an even 26

Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine www.ceilearning.com Spring/Summer 2012

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Clear Creek Students Who Improved Math Benchmark Scores after using MLS

more positive environment for the students. According to B.C., “She works very effectively with the children in the lab. She’s very positive. She frequently assesses the reports and shares her successes with me.” Like many facilitators, Stephani and Erin have noticed significant changes in the students who have worked in their labs. One positive change, according to Stephani, is “their confidence when they master a skill and begin to complete Copy-Write with few or no errors.” While teachers and parents appreciate the intangible personal successes their students have experienced, administrators especially appreciate the concrete gains the students have made on the programs. Ms. Ramos reports that this fall is already off to a promising start in terms of improved performance. Recently, third, fourth and fifth graders at Clear Creek completed their second math benchmark assessment for the year. Around the middle of January, teachers received the scores of that assessment. Since the first benchmark test administered from September 19-23 and the second benchmark test administered January 6-12, students who had worked on the MLS program made some phenomenal progress. Erin proudly shared the following results:  Almost 62% of the third grade students made gains between the two benchmarks, and almost 63% of the students who made gains are now on grade level.  50% of the fourth grade students made gains between the two benchmarks, and over 71% of the students who made gains are now on grade level.  75% of the fifth grade students made gains between the two benchmarks, and almost 67% of the students who made gains are now on grade level.


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Nolanville Elemetary Students Makayla Brickley (Left) and Rochelle Robinson work on their ELS Lessons.

CEI Recently received this letter from Nolanville Elementary ELS Facilitator Jennifer Coleman:

Ms. Ramos is hoping to see similar gains on science testing. After purchasing SVE, she made sure that it was installed in every classroom on the campus. At that time, she explained, “I cannot help but think that it will help with science vocabulary, which consistently challenges my students.” On a recent visit, Lesley asked Ms. Ramos how the teachers were enjoying SVE. Her response? “They love it!” CEI would like to thank everyone involved in all of the CEI labs at Clear Creek Elementary. We are so proud that you, like Nietzsche, understand the importance of your students’ future and that you are allowing it to influence their present. We are also glad you are allowing CEI to be a part of that influence, just as you and the many other labs featured in this celebratory issue of SHARE have done in the past.

“First and Foremost, ELS and MLS are designed to allow all students to work on their individualized levels. The programs are so wonderful for that simple fact alone…. Within a classroom, the teacher is not able to address the gaps in the students’ skills, but the lab can.” Amber Diaz, Assistant Principal, Killeen ISD, Cavazos Elementary School

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his is my first year as a facilitator for the CEI ELS program at Nolanville Elementary in Nolanville, Texas. It has been a wonderful experience so far this school year. I look forward to seeing my students every day because they are excited about learning. My students have seen the effects the program has had on their grades. I had a student boasting to me about her reading grade because it improved by 10% on her report card. Every little improvement makes a big difference for these kids. Any kind of support program we can provide for our students shows that Nolanville Elementary cares about our students’ educations. The CEI ELS program helps our kids shine like stars and achieve their best.”

Jennifer’s principal, Gabriela Morgan, credits much of the lab’s success to Jennifer. Mrs. Morgan believes Jennifer was the perfect person to serve as a CEI lab facilitator. “Jennifer has done an outstanding job in our mobile CEI lab this year,” Mrs. Morgan said. “Being a mobile lab presents some challenges that are not part of a (regular) room lab. She keeps the equipment charged and ready. She keeps all the students’ needed materials ready and accessible for each student. She keeps the number of students she works with low for each session so that she can focus on their needs and keep the students moving forward in their reading skills. “Her attention to details and her willingness to serve every child she comes in contact are the key pieces of making our mobile lab successful,” Mrs. Morgan added. Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine Celebrating 25 years of making a difference

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CEI, February marks one of our favorite times of the year. While most students (and their teachers) are eagerly anticipating their upcoming spring break, we are eagerly anticipating all of the Creative Writing Contest entries we will receive. That anticipation has been building since November, when CEI Solutions Analysts began encouraging facilitators and their students to enter the contest. Each February, we begin to reap the rewards of that encouragement. As you can see by the other stories that appear in this issue, CEI lab facilitators frequently share the successes they and their students experience with the programs. However, it’s through the hundreds of Creative Writing Contest entries we receive that we truly get to learn more about those students and see their imaginations at work.

As the entries come in, certified educators read and review each story, scoring it on originality, creativity, and (for ELS students) use of lesson words. This year, those educators have given out almost 100 awards, including the prestigious Judge’s Choice Award. The CEI team would like to thank not only the award recipients, but everyone else who participated as well. It is your hard work that makes our hard work so worthwhile. And now … the moment you’ve been waiting for … the 2012 Creative Writing Contest winners: Judge’s Choice Award Winner: Cheyanne Wortman, 7th grade Bandera Middle School Bandera ISD

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First Grade First Place

Jesus Bolaños

Avila Elementary School

Edinburg CISD

Second Place

Evelynne Martinez

Avila Elementary School

Edinburg CISD

Third Place

Lucas Cantu

First Woodway Christian School

Second Grade First Place First Place

Kaitlyn Byrum Sheree Barton

Colmesneil Elementary Cavazos Elementary School

Second Place

Marilexa Tijerina

Ramirez Elementary School

Edinburg CISD

Third Place

Sadie Calhoon

Colmesneil Elementary

Colmesneil ISD

Honorable Mention

Fabian Pena

Avila Elementary School

Edinburg CISD

Third Grade First Place First Place First Place

Timothy Chaudoin Sunnie Wilkinson Fernando Sanchez

Taylor Creek Elementary Colmesneil Elementary Ramirez Elementary School

Lampasas ISD Colmesneil ISD Edinburg CISD

Second Place Second Place

Tyler Mitchem Brad Rich

Taylor Creek Elementary Taylor Creek Elementary

Lampasas ISD Lampasas ISD

Third Place Third Place

Kaylee Dougherty Presley Brown

Taylor Creek Elementary Colmesneil Elementary

Lampasas ISD Colmesneil ISD

Honorable Mention

Avery Broussard

Colmesneil Elementary

Colmesneil ISD

Fourth Grade First Place First Place First Place First Place

Korie Menard Amber Esparza Mary Topolinski Ramon Garcia

Taylor Creek Elementary Bonham Elementary School Colmesneil Elementary Harry Shimotsu Elementary

Lampasas ISD McAllen ISD Colmesneil ISD Sharyland ISD

Second Place Second Place Second Place Second Place

Alvaro Canales Jasmine Gutierrez Kayla Divins Faith Briney

Jessie Jensen Elementary Sugar Loaf Elementary School Colmesneil Elementary Colmesneil Elementary

Sharyland ISD Killeen ISD Colmesneil ISD Colmesneil ISD

Third Place Third Place

Lakota Colby Maria Gonzalez

Taylor Creek Elementary Avila Elementary School

Lampasas ISD Edinburg CISD

Honorable Mention Honorable Mention

Haydn Hammerschmidt Victoria Pena

Taylor Creek Elementary Harry Shimotsu Elementary

Lampasas ISD Sharyland ISD

Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine www.ceilearning.com Spring/Summer 2012

Woodway, TX Colmesneil ISD Killeen ISD


Fifth Grade First Place First Place First Place First Place

Victoria Chaudoin Hussein Ibrahim Delaney Parrish Carlos Gutierrez

Taylor Creek Elementary Taylor Creek Elementary Taylor Creek Elementary Harry Shimotsu Elementary

Lampasas ISD Lampasas ISD Lampasas ISD Sharyland ISD

Second Place Second Place

Sofia Ibarra Chloe Haley

Bonham Elementary School Cavazos Elementary School

McAllen ISD Killeen ISD

Third Place Third Place

Teja Thompson Kaytlynn Saenz

Youth Development Center Garza Elementary

Houston, TX McAllen ISD

Honorable Mention Honorable Mention

Susie Lynch Sierra Holland

Taylor Creek Elementary Cavazos Elementary School

Lampasas ISD Killeen ISD

Sixth Grade First Place First Place First Place First Place First Place

David Guzman Joel Duran Cheyenne Rodriguez Pamela Rodriguez Robert Ennis

Jessie Jensen Elementary Bandera Middle School Bandera Middle School Lampasas Middle School Bandera Middle School

Sharyland ISD Bandera ISD Bandera ISD Lampasas ISD Bandera ISD

Second Place Second Place Second Place Second Place

Juan Contreras Corina Beadman Sean Salazar Melissa Cordero

Bandera Middle School Bandera Middle School Lampasas Middle School Memorial Middle School

Bandera ISD Bandera ISD Lampasas ISD Edinburg CISD

Third Place Third Place Third Place

Priscilla Bernal Steven Hoff Desiree Venzor

Bandera Middle School Lampasas Middle School Bandera Middle School

Bandera ISD Lampasas ISD Bandera ISD

Honorable Mention Honorable Mention Honorable Mention

Gilberto Montiel Jonathan Godinez Yesenia Aguilar

Lampasas Middle School Lampasas Middle School Memorial Middle School

Lampasas ISD Lampasas ISD Edinburg CISD

Seventh Grade First Place First Place First Place First Place

Erika Duran Cheyanne Wortman Charlie Tondre Caleb Vick

Bandera Middle School Bandera Middle School Bandera Middle School Bandera Middle School

Second Place Second Place Second Place Second Place

Jordan Galvan Chris Lopez Michael Fowler Corbin Myers

Memorial Middle School Bandera Middle School Bandera Middle School Bandera Middle School

Edinburg CISD Bandera ISD Bandera ISD Bandera ISD

Third Place Third Place Third Place Third Place

Alejandra Reyes Loni Campbell Alejandro (Hondo) Hernandez Dalila Mia Rangel

Memorial Middle School Bandera Middle School Lampasas Middle School Memorial Middle School

Edinburg CISD Bandera ISD Lampasas ISD Edinburg CISD

Honorable Mention Honorable Mention Honorable Mention Honorable Mention

David Santos Jewell Weed Katie Adamson Michael Pinkham

Memorial Middle School Bandera Middle School Bandera Middle School Bandera Middle School

Edinburg CISD Bandera ISD Bandera ISD Bandera ISD

Eighth Grade First Place First Place First Place First Place First Place

Leslie Bueno Luis Gonzalez Garrett Reeves Stephanie Lister Giovanni Loera

Memorial Middle School Bandera Middle School Bandera Middle School Bandera Middle School Memorial Middle School

Edinburg CISD Bandera ISD Bandera ISD Bandera ISD Edinburg CISD

Second Place Second Place Second Place Second Place

Luis Ramirez Hugh Gisler Charles Queen Garrett Reeves

Bandera Middle School Bandera Middle School Lampasas Middle School Bandera Middle School

Bandera ISD Bandera ISD Lampasas ISD Bandera ISD

Third Place Third Place Third Place Third Place

Ramon Lopez Bailey Kitchens Spencer Maples Justin Lothamer

Memorial Middle School Bandera Middle School Lampasas Middle School Bandera Middle School

Edinburg CISD Bandera ISD Lampasas ISD Bandera ISD

Honorable Mention Honorable Mention Honorable Mention Honorable Mention

Natalia Lopez Elly Salazar Catherine Stuart Silvestre Lozoya

Bandera Middle School Bandera Middle School Bandera Middle School Memorial Middle School

Bandera ISD Bandera ISD Bandera ISD Edinburg CISD

Bandera ISD Bandera ISD Bandera ISD Bandera ISD

Tenth Grade First Place Diana Godino-Gayton Economedes High School Edinburg CISD

Facilitators First Place

Carol Tarver

Ruben Hinojosa Elementary School

Sharyland ISD

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Sterling Performances

CEI Commends 2011-2012 Who’s Who Honorees DeWitt Middle School DeWitt, Arkansas Debbie English, Facilitator Alicia King is a seventh grade student at DeWitt Middle School in DeWitt, Arkansas. This is Alicia’s second year in the MLS program, and facilitator Debbie English reports, “She has really started to shine!” According to Ms. English, “Alicia started the year working on Multiplication with Single Digits with an MLS Placement test score of 29%. As of now, she is mastering Dividing Fractions with Different Denominators and making a 100% almost every time. “In my many years of teaching, I have only had one student master every lesson, but I feel sure Alicia will be the second student to accomplish this in my CEI math lab this year,” Ms. English added. Alicia’s classroom math teacher, Cheryl Wilson, is also impressed with Alicia and her math improvements. “Alicia has worked hard…. She comes into the classroom ready to do her work. Her grades have really improved, as well as her work ethic. She continues to show responsibility and is a very capable student. I am very proud of Alicia’s accomplishments.” Ms. English agrees, adding, “I, too, am so very proud of Alicia King and the accomplishments she has made this year! Way to go, girl!” Matt Ballard, a seventh grader, has been in the MLS lab at DeWitt Middle School for the past two years. “Matt started this year on Multiplication with Single Digits and has worked his way up to mastering Fraction Identification,” said Debbie. “His work ethic has improved noticeably, and we now know that he is a very capable student. He has been doing really well!” Ms. English continued, “I feel that being in the CEI math lab every day has helped Matt with his confidence, and now he knows for sure that he can do it! Not only is he doing well in his MLS lesson work, he is also one of my top Digit’s Widgets players! I am so very proud of Matt Ballard and the accomplishments he has achieved this year!” Cano-Gonzalez Elementary Edinburg CISD, Edinburg, Texas Lupita Tijerina, Facilitator Justin Alaniz first tested for ELS in October 2008 when he was a second grader. At that time, his Instructional Reading level was a 1.6, and his Reading Comprehension was at 3.1. Now a fifthgrader at Cano-Gonzalez Elementary in Edinburg CISD, Justin has gained a whole 2.5 grade levels since he started CEI. In spite of his dyslexia, the program has helped him go from a first grade reading level to almost fourth grade. In addition to receiving perfect test scores in every category at the end of Level I, he has already completed

up to Level II, Lesson 20. He has also participated in CEI’s Creative Writing Contest. Justin also attends the MLS lab, where he is doing great work in Unit 3. Last year he passed the TAKS [Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills] in both Reading and Math and even got commended. His classroom teacher, Mrs. Valdez, has noticed that his benchmark scores have improved this year as well. Justin’s mother has even noticed that he is not as shy and is talking more. More importantly, Justin’s love for reading has also grown. He has made it his goal to read over one million words this school year, and he is well on his way to accomplishing that goal as of early March. Best of all, Justin does not just read his novels, he gets engrossed in them. Recently his mother found him crying in his bedroom, and when she asked him what was wrong, he answered, “I finished reading the novel and it has such a sad ending.” This came from a boy who just years before felt like a failure because he struggled in reading. Justin’s positive attitude, kindness, compassion for others, and will to overcome his reading struggles are testaments to the support of his family, his teachers, his own dedication to CEI, and the help from Ms. Tijerina in the CEI lab. Canterbury Elementary Edinburg CISD, Edinburg, Texas Joshua Trevino, Facilitator Facilitator Josh Trevino of Canterbury Elementary is in his fifth year of working with CEI’s programs, but he says that this school year is his first year of true success with the labs. Until this year, he used ELS to serve only a handful of identified dyslexic students. Now he has expanded the ELS lab to serve more than 30 students, and he is serving more than 70 students with MLS. Even more impressive is the fact that he not only manages the ELS and MLS students, but simultaneously oversees another computer-based early literacy program within his lab as well. Josh admits that the lab gets very hectic at times, but he says it is worth it when the students come through the door each day ready to get started. In order to motivate all of his students to have that attitude, he recently pursued an educational partnership with the local H-E-B grocery store. The store contributes a regular supply of Buddy Bucks as part of an incentive plan for the students, and from time to time “H-E-Buddy” will visit the lab to encourage and work with the CEI students. Josh, his administrators, and the students would like to thank CEI for offering such great programs. In turn, CEI offers special thanks to H-E-B for playing a large part in the success of students at Canterbury.

Carmen Avila Elementary Edinburg CISD, Edinburg, Texas America Romero, Facilitator Facilitator America Romera sent in several items about her CEI students at Carmen Avila Elementary. Even though almost 65% of the school’s student population is Limited English Proficient and almost 95% are considered Economically Disadvantaged, children in the Avila labs are making great strides. To help her students progress more quickly, Mrs. Romera has them read aloud as much as possible, even on their worksheets. She also has many of them complete Copy-Write using both Words and Phrases to encourage significant improvements in their handwriting. The following are just a few of the success stories she has seen: First grader Evelyne Martinez began working the CEI lab last year when she was in kindergarten. Evelyne started in Letter Recognition and has shown much improvement, working all the way up to Level I, Lesson 9 in ELS. Her penmanship is beautiful in the writing exercises, and she reads aloud willingly during both SHARE and Clues. Evelyne’s first grade teacher, Mrs. Villarreal, boasts, “Evelyne is doing really well in my class!” First-grade student Jesus Bolanos is completing his first year in the CEI lab at Carmen Avila Elementary. Jesus works very hard because he truly wants to learn to read and write. In the past, Jesus achieved 100% in SHARE and has successfully increased his words in Quick Talk. He speaks English well, likes to ask questions, and has very good attendance in the lab. Those qualities have carried over into his regular classroom. In fact, his classroom teacher, Mr. Gonzalez, is proud to say, “Jesus has improved very much in my class academically.” Second-grade student Carlos Barrera is in his third year in the Carmen Avila Elementary CEI lab. He has improved in reading, spelling, and writing in both the lab and the regular classroom. He has excellent typing skills, and is improving in fluency and handwriting. Carlos’ second grade teacher Mrs. Bazan has seen improvements as well. She offers, “Carlos is doing wonderfully in my class because he wants to learn and is confident.” Second grader Fabian Pena is in his second year in the Carmen Avila Elementary CEI lab. Fabian began his lab work on Level I, Lesson 1, and has already progressed to Level II, Lesson 20. He has shown incredible improvements in reading, spelling and writing in both the lab and classroom. He also has excellent typing skills. Mrs. Reyes, Fabian’s second grade teacher, comments, “Fabian is well behaved and does his work in class neatly.” Karla Dominguez, a second-grade student at Carmen Avila Elementary, is in her second year in the ELS lab. Karla has very good attendance in the lab, which combined with Continued on page 5

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Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine 2011-2012 Who’s Who Among CEI Students


Alicia King

Matt Ballard

Justin Alaniz

Evelyne Martinez

Jesus Bolanos

Carlos Barrera

Fabian Pena

Karla Dominguez

Melissa Velazquez

Oscar Gonzalez

Samuel Melendez

Facilitator Josh Trevino (Second row, far left) and students and staff of edinburg CISD’s Canterbury elementary thank CEI for ELS and MLS, and they thank H-E-B Grocery store #431 for the support and contributions to the success of the CEI lab and its students. Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine Celebrating 25 years of making a difference

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Dalila Rangel

Deisy Recio-Serrano

Giovanni Loera

Hiram Garcia

Israel Herrera

Jerryn Hernandez

Lydia Lopez

Melissa Cordero

Rolando Salinas

Stephanie Casas

Yesenia Aguilar

Brandi Vega

From left: Myles Heavilin, Hannah Berkheimer, Anne Werner, Lauren Anderson and Brennan Jennings

Anne Werner

Liam Veitch (L) and Facilitator John Toomey

Peter Chimoskey

Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine 2011-2012 Who’s Who Among CEI Students


continued from page 2

her strong desire to learn, has contributed to improvements in her reading and writing. She is currently on Level II. Mrs. Bazan, Karla’s second grade teacher attests, “Karla is hard-working and does not quit until she has done her work correctly.” Melissa Velazquez is a second-grade student at Carmen Avila Elementary. Melissa began working in ELS lab during her first grade year in 2010. In the past two years, she has worked her way up to Level II. Her penmanship is beautiful, and she reads along willingly with the computer. Most importantly, Melissa’s first grade teacher, Mrs. Gonzalez, sees the changes as well, saying, “Melissa has improved academically in my class.” Second grader Oscar Gonzalez is completing his first year in the Carmen Avila Elementary ELS lab. Oscar’s second grade teacher Mr. Garza comments, “Oscar wants to learn and is self-motivated.” That is likely what accounts for his improved reading, spelling, and writing in the lab and in the regular classroom. Oscar has also achieved 100% in SHARE on numerous occasions. Samuel Melendez, a second grader at Carmen Avila Elementary, is completing his first year in the ELS lab. He started the year in Letter Recognition and has since graduated to Level I in ELS. He has improved in reading, spelling, and writing in the lab. His classroom teacher, Ms. Cantu, reports that she is very proud of the improvements Samuel has made in her classroom as well. Memorial Middle School Edinburg CISD, Edinburg, Texas Diane Gorena, Facilitator Dalila Rangel, a seventh grader at Memorial Middle School explains, “The CEI program helps me to gain more confidence in myself because it helps me with reading comprehension.” Dalila is better prepared to take her STAAR [State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness] exams and has improved tremendously on her fourth six-weeks STAAR Benchmarks! In Reading, she went from a 46 to an 82! Dalila has made the A and A/B Honor Rolls, was selected as Student of the Month, and is one of the top three Accelerated Reader students. Dalila loves the Wildcat lab! Memorial Middle School eighth grader Deisy Recio-Serrano is in her sixth year of CEI. In that time, Deisy has met her SHARE goals every day and improved her CEI progress from substandard to standard performance. “The program helps to explain the meaning of words and when I read, I know how to pronounce and understand the words. I can communicate better and understand and read more words and passages given in my English-Language Arts class,” she acknowledges. She has received the Student of the Month award for her improved grades and overall class conduct. Giovanni Loera, an eighth grader at Memorial Middle School, is in his second year of CEI. “The program has helped me to become a better reader. I no longer get the thin, easy books. I can read out loud in class and do my work independently. My favorite part of the CEI is Copy-Write because I like to write sentences, and at the end of the week we earn our incentives for completing three or more SHARE’s,” he explains. Giovanni’s is now on Level IV of ELS and has a 94% average, which is commendable performance in the lab. He is also on the A/B honor roll.

Memorial Middle School eighth grader Hiram Garcia is in his second year with CEI. Hiram is an excellent CEI student who is always ready to begin. “I like the program because it helps me to understand the meaning of new words, pronounce them better, and reach higher goals in reading,” he explains. Hiram has gained a new self-confidence in CEI, his pronunciation is improving, and he enjoys learning. He is on Level IV and maintains a 93% on his Post-Test average … a commendable status in the Wildcat Lab. Diane Gorena adds, “His increased vocabulary and reading comprehension are a joy to observe.” Israel Herrera, a seventh grader at Memorial Middle School, is in his fourth year on the ELS program. He is at commendable status with a 96% on his Post-Test average, and he is proud of the 13% improvement he has seen between his pre-test and post-test scores in ELS. “I like learning new vocabulary words in each lesson. I might not know the words at the beginning of the lesson, but I learn them by the end of the lesson. I am reading faster and feel like my reading is getting better,” he acknowledges. Diane Gorena adds, “I have seen Israel improve, and he is also one of a few students on Level IV.” Memorial Middle School seventh grader Jerryn Hernandez loves CEI and is speaking English for first time in his life after only two years on the program! He is now able to match sounds to letters and say simple words. What a huge accomplishment! Jerryn has earned A/B honor roll status and been named Student of the Month. He is currently working on STAAR-ALT objectives, mastering 10 out of 12. He is now working for longer periods of time, is exposed to higher-level vocabulary, and participates in spelling tests. Sixth grader Lydia Lopez of Memorial Middle School has been in the ELS lab for three years. She attributes her courage for reading out loud to CEI. “Whenever the teacher asks me to read in class, I feel a little nervous, but I put on my glasses and pretend I’m reading to the computer and I feel comfortable again. I’m also reading and testing more at my Accelerated Reading level,” she acknowledges. She has a 19% gain in her Pre-/PostTest difference and is an example of what a true Wildcat reader should strive to achieve. Sixth grader Melissa Cordero is in her second year in Memorial Middle School’s CEI lab. “CEI has helped me to become a better listener and to pay attention in class. My favorite part of CEI is See Say and Word Building because I learn how to correctly pronounce and understand my vocabulary words,” Melissa said. Since starting the lab, her average in English class has improved from a 60 to a 90. In CEI, she is on Level III and has a commendable 92% status on her Post-Test average. Diane comments, “Melissa is joy to have in my CEI lab because she is an excellent student leader.” Although seventh grade student Rolando Salinas is a recent newcomer to the CEI lab at Memorial Middle School, he has shown much progress in his reading ability. He is at Commendable status in the Wildcat lab with a 96% Post-Test average. “I like CEI because I am learning many words, doing better in my classes, and getting awards for completing my SHAREs on Fridays,” he said joyfully. Rolando is right on track as he acquires a large

vocabulary and confidence in speaking English. With his motivation to learn, he has shown great improvement in the short time he has been the lab. Memorial Middle School sixth grader Stephanie Casas is in her second year in CEI. She was a shy student at the beginning of the year, but has gained self-confidence by using the program. “I like the program because it helps me to learn new vocabulary words, and I’m not scared to speak up anymore. I also like to read the words out loud in class,” she acknowledges. Stephanie’s Continuous Progress Monitoring report shows that she is rated as “Commendable” with an average score of 96% on her Post-Tests. She has also met her Accelerated Reader goals, and she was named Student of the Month for three consecutive months. Sixth grader Yesenia Aguilar of Memorial Middle School has improved to a 90 average in her regular English class. “CEI has helped me to become a better listener and pay attention more in class,” she proudly said. Yesenia’s post-test average is 95%, which is considered “Commendable.” This reflects an 8% gain for her. Ms. Gorena reports that Yesenia is one of only a few students from Memorial to reach Level IV. “She has shown excellent daily progress,” Ms. Gorena noted, “and she has shown the Wildcat Spirit by encouraging other Wildcat readers around her.” Ramirez Elementary Edinburg CISD, Edinburg, Texas Maricela Trejo. Facilitator At the start of the school year, Ramirez Elementary student Brandi Vega was enrolled in a Special Education unit and assigned resource instruction and CEI attendance, with the opportunity to transition into a regular classroom. Brandi is now able to function in a regular classroom setting. She reads and identifies words, participates in class, and has improved her assessments from failing grades to passing grades. According to facilitator Maricela Trejo, “Brandi is a vibrant little girl who will succeed through her opportunity with CEI (ELS and MLS) and the support of her teachers and family.” Escuela del Sol Montessori School Albuquerque, New Mexico John Toomey, Facilitator Escuela del Sol, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a very close-knit community of parents, teachers and students. John Toomey, the Essential Learning Systems (ELS) facilitator at the school, is an artist originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. “John is new to the lab this year, but I have been impressed with the level of communication he has with his students’ parents,” said CEI Solutions Analyst Susan Keith. “He meets regularly with them, and he recently let me know that the parents all said their students are doing better in all areas – socially as well as academically. I am really proud for his success, especially in his first year at the helm!” John also reports that the teachers at Escuela del Sol feel that the ELS program is a good fit with Montessori Education. “Perhaps the ELS approach works so well with the Montessori approach because each focuses on repetition leading to mastery, addresses the needs of children with different learning styles, and utilizes a multi-sensory approach,” Susan commented. Continued on page 6

Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine Celebrating 25 years of making a difference

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Anna Chavez

Celia Robles

Cody Ballard

Maddie S.

Bridget B.

Clarissa De La Cruz

Nicole Koke

Ivan Rangel

continued from page 5

“Also, the Montessori method and ELS both use a work-centered and multi-age learning environment, and both build a foundation to expand beyond the basic lesson — like through our ELS Quick Tales — once mastery is achieved,” Susan said. John agrees that the two programs are a good fit. “The teachers have confirmed to me that they can see a positive difference in the students who are using ELS,” he said. Grand Saline Intermediate Grand Saline ISD, Grand Saline, Texas Joyce Hollenshead and Loretta Wheeler, Facilitators Anna Chavez is a fourth grader at Grand Saline Intermediate School. She is in her first year of using the Mathematical Learning Systems (MLS) program and is currently working on double-digit multiplication. “I have always liked math, but I have not been good at it,” Anna said. Fortunately, Anna has improved dramatically these past several months. In fact, a recent MLS Continuous Progress Monitoring report indicated that Anna has shown a 73 percent overall improvement since taking the MLS Placement. “Anna is a hard worker and is very dedicated to her lessons in the lab,” said Joyce Hollenshead, CEI facilitator. “Because of the dramatic gains seen in her math this year, Anna’s classroom teacher reports that Anna now raises her hand frequently to answer the teacher’s questions with confidence. “Anna is also very proud of herself for memorizing her multiplication facts,” Mrs. Hollenshead continued. “She is just doing great, and I expect that her math skills will continue to improve!” “I always liked math, but now I love it!” Anna said. “Learning math with MLS has made it easy for me!” Fourth grader Celia Robles is also in her first year of using MLS at Grand Saline Intermediate, and she is currently working on Triple Digit Subtraction. Facilitator Loretta Wheeler reports that

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Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine 2011-2012 Who’s Who Among CEI Students

Celia has shown a remarkable improvement of 74 percent since her initial MLS Placement test. “Using the blocks to trade and/or exchange has helped Celia understand the concept of regrouping in addition and subtraction facts,” Ms. Wheeler said. “She has benefited not only during her lab lessons, but also on her report card. Celia has told me that her math grades have gone up this year because she has a better understanding of the concepts. “I have high expectations of Celia because I know she can do the work, especially by the time she gets to Lesson 7 or 8,” Ms. Wheeler continued. “Celia tries her best even when she is frustrated. Her attitude is always positive even if she is having a rough day, and that really helps.” Cody Ballard, a fourth grader at Grand Saline Intermediate, is in his second year in the Essential Learning Systems (ELS) program and has shown notable improvement this year, Ms. Hollenshead reported. “Cody has improved his spelling ability by 30 percent and his knowledge of ELS vocabulary by 55 percent!” she said, referring to the ELS Continuous Progress Monitoring report produced for Cody. “I have always had trouble with reading and spelling,” Cody said. “I really did not know all the sounds a letter makes.” That has changed now. “Once he learned the sounds better, he said it all started fitting into place for him,” Mrs. Hollenshead said. “Cody has always liked school, even though it was difficult for him. He especially likes doing his work on the computer rather than just with pencil and paper. He told me that’s a big part of why he loves coming to the lab.” Cody’s parents have also been quite supportive. “His parents have encouraged him and tried to get him the help that he needed,” Mrs. Hollenshead said. “If needed, I make him a copy of his new words with their word meanings so he can study them at home. There are times when he even asks me to make him a copy. I think

that shows a great attitude on his part. Even when the words are challenging, he approaches them with a smile on his face and a positive outlook.” “I would recommend the lab to other students who are struggling with reading or spelling,” Cody said. “I love the program so much I would do it even if we didn’t have a treasure box of goodies!” Incarnation School Archdiocese of Chicago Palos Heights, Illinois Cindy Mortimer, Facilitator Incarnation School, located in the south suburbs of Chicago, boasts of many accomplishments. At the top of those accomplishments are the Essential Learning Systems (ELS) and Mathematical Learning Systems (MLS) labs, both operated by veteran facilitator Cindy Mortimer. In fact, the school has received Exemplary awards in both of its labs, even when MLS was just in its first year of operation! Every exemplary lab can boast of its exceptional students, but with limited space, we will feature just two of those outstanding children. Maddie S. is the first of those outstanding students, and she is enrolled in both ELS and MLS. Maddie started ELS at its beginning, Level I, Lesson 1. Now, only in her second year in the lab, she has reached Level III, Lesson 10. It was sometime during her first year in the lab that she experienced her “Aha!” moment, when the processing took place and she no longer struggled with spelling and vocabulary. With the introduction of CEI’s Continuous Progress Monitoring reports, Ms. Mortimer has noticed a huge improvement from Maddie’s Pre-Tests to almost 100% on every section of the Post-Tests. In MLS, Maddie started last year on Unit 1, worked her way through Units 2 and 3, and recently started fractions. Maddie is highly motivated and driven to get the most from both programs.


Bridget B., also a sixth grader at Incarnation School, has recently “graduated” from the ELS program. One of the motivation ideas Ms. Mortimer uses in her lab is posting a ‘shooting star’ on the wall to show accomplishments. Bridget’s star not only made it to the wall, but now it wears a graduation cap, signifying her accomplishment of completing all six levels in ELS. One of the areas of greatest improvement that Ms. Mortimer has seen is Bridget’s vocabulary development. In fact, while Bridget completed levels IV and V, she was able to test out of several of the more difficult lesson words. Now Bridget will concentrate her lab time on MLS, where she is grasping concepts at a fast pace. Before we know it, Ms. Mortimer will be adding another graduation cap to Bridget’s star as she graduates from the MLS program! Good work, Maddie and Bridget — and Ms. Mortimer! Lingleville School Lingleville ISD, Lingleville, Texas Elaine Carpenter, Facilitator Clarissa De La Cruz, Nicole Koke, and Ivan Rangel are three outstanding CEI students from the Lingleville lab this year. All three are fifth graders who have been in the lab for several years and have made great progress in acquiring skills needed to be successful in their classroom work. At the end of the 2010-2011 school year, their average Reading Comprehension growth on the Diagnostic Screening Test: Reading was 2.6 years! Macon Middle School and High School Montezuma, Georgia, Macon County, Georgia Terresena Harp, Facilitator Math 1 teacher Stephen Chapman wrote to us about Jarques Logan’s remarkable accomplishments: I have had the pleasure of teaching Jarques Logan in Math 1 at Macon County High School in Montezuma, Georgia, this current school year, 2011-2012. Jarques began the year, as any freshman, adjusting to the new environment and new pace of high school. He soon discovered that he was better in mathematics than he had realized before. Looking back, Jarques passed his eighth grade Math class with a respectable average. In the first half of this year, he achieved a 10% increase from that score. In this current semester, he has already earned an additional 10% for his third nine-weeks grade! Jarques has developed into an outstanding math student. In spite of the personal challenges he has faced, he is excelling at a level above most of his peers. Jarques is one of the top students in all of my classes. He gives his best, participates, and helps those around him. I am proud to have Jarques in my class. I will not be surprised at anything he accomplishes in life. Enthusiastically, Stephen Chapman Math 1 Teacher Macon County High School Montezuma, Georgia We received this letter from Danelle J. Emory, Willie Livingston’s teacher: “Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what, get started now! With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more selfconfident, and more and more successful.” ~ Mark Victor Hansen

The previous quotation exemplifies what comes to mind when thinking about the accomplishments and strides that Willie Livingston is making towards getting an education. I have had the opportunity to witness a change for the better when it comes to Willie’s attitude for learning in my American Literature class. He has changed from being someone who preferred to make the class laugh rather than tackle an assignment, to someone who is engaged in learning and is eager to ask questions about his progress of mastering the prescribed standard or concept being studied. Using his determination and wits in a positive manner has led him to become a student who is becoming academically strong, “more skilled,” “more self-confident” and “more and more successful.”

Jarques Logan

Sincerely, Danelle J. Emory, ELA Teacher Macon County High School Marcus Rocquemore’s teacher, Lathonia Joiner, shared: During the year and a half month that I have worked with Marcus, he has worked hard in all of his classes. I believe that his hard work and diligence towards his studies is due in part to his participation in the CEI lab. When he came into my class in August of last year, he was shy and he did not participate in class. But as he participated in the CEI lab, he began to open up in class, ask questions, and show remarkable results on all of his assessments. Marcus’ Language Arts average has risen 10 percentage points since he started attending the CEI program.

Willie Livingston

I believe the CEI program has helped him achieve success and motivated him to become a better student. I highly recommend him for the “Who’s Who” recognition because he truly deserves it. Sincerely, Lathonia Joiner Hendricks Elementary McAllen ISD, McAllen, Texas Adriana Arce, Facilitator

Marcus Rocquemore

Kourtney Ochoa has been enrolled in the CEI Dyslexia Lab for almost two years. Kourtney began on Level I, Lesson 10 in September 2010. Since then, she has shown immense growth and is now on Level III, Lesson 3. Her skills assessment averages are in the 90s, and she is very enthusiastic about her work. Her attendance is proof that she is dedicated to coming each day to school, as well as the CEI Lab. Kourtney has also shown improvement in her writing and spelling skills. She is now able to recognize her own mistakes and make corrections on Copy-Write. Sam Houston Elementary McAllen ISD, McAllen, Texas Elizabeth Moreno, Facilitator “Guillermo Caudillo is a model student whose dedication to his lessons has opened doors to a new level of learning,” says Elizabeth Moreno, Bilingual/ESL Teacher and Dyslexia Facilitator at Sam Houston Elementary in McAllen, Texas. “He is exceptionally responsible and highly self-directed. His academic progress in the Dyslexia lab at Sam Houston Elementary is evidence of the daily effort he takes to complete all his lessons. “ “Receiving lessons in our CEI program for almost two years has really improved Guillermo’s confidence in both his academic goals and self-image. Guillermo makes me very proud, and I recommend him for Who’s Who without any reservations,” said Ms. Moreno.

Kourtney Ochoa

Guillermo Caudillo Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine Celebrating 25 years of making a difference

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Roosevelt Elementary McAllen ISD, McAllen, Texas Elizabeth Moreno, Facilitator

“I love spending my time in (ELS) because I learn so much and have so much fun with my friends and Mrs. Hartman,” Millie said.

Carlos Salazar has been working in the CEI Dyslexia Lab for almost a year. During this time, his teacher has witnessed tremendous growth and development, not only in the area of reading, but also in his maturity and character. At first, he appeared a bit insecure when learning the activities in the program. But soon, the immediate success he experienced motivated him to set personal goals that were not only attainable, but also measurable. Carlos quickly learned how to manage his time in the lab to complete his lessons, became a role model for his classmates, and a valuable member of the CEI Dyslexia Lab and Roosevelt Elementary in McAllen, Texas. “He has made me very proud, and I know he will continue to do so as his reading skills develop with him,” said his teacher Lisa Moreno.

Rebekah Bailey, a second-grade student at North Delta School, has managed an impressive feat. She has now completed all six levels of the ELS program. “Rebekah completed Level I in kindergarten, Levels II and III in first grade, and Levels IV, V and VI this school year before the end of February,” Mrs. Hartman said. “Rebekah has always worked diligently with one goal in mind – to complete all of ELS! “Rebekah is the perfect student because she seeks knowledge and does quality work,” Mrs. Hartman continued, adding, “I will miss having her in my lab.”

Lone Star Elementary Montgomery ISD, Montgomery, Texas Kris Gonzales, Facilitator Rori Prelli is a first grader at Lone Star Elementary in Montgomery, Texas. She started the ELS program in October. She is very enthusiastic and works diligently at each task on the program. She progressed to writing Phrases on Copy-Write and is now moving on to write Sentences. Facilitator Kris Gonzales sees carryover of all the program components in her classroom work. Her comprehension level has improved over one grade level. Her sight vocabulary was 0; she now scores 2.1. On her report card, Rori has made excellent progress in the areas of decoding, word study and sight word recognition. Her first grade teacher Michelle Swanson reports, “Rori has made progress in terms of decoding and sight word recall. She is closing the gap.” North Delta School Batesville, Mississippi Vickie Hartman, Facilitator Ford Thomas, a kindergartner at North Delta School, looks forward to coming to ELS class each day, according to facilitator Vickie Hartman. “Ford always gives 100 percent and wants to work even when it’s Fun Friday and the other students want to play games,” she said. Ford began the year working at Level I, Lesson 1. As of March 2, he had begun working on Lesson 21. “He has shown an overall improvement of 53%,” Mrs. Hartman said, referring to results provided by the ELS Continuous Progress Monitoring system. “Ford is a great ELS student who consistently performs well,” Mrs. Hartman added. Millie and Sophie Williams are twin sisters in the first grade at North Delta School. “Both of these girls began ELS in kindergarten at Level I, Lesson 1, and as of early March, they were on Level II, Lessons 15 and 16, respectively,” Mrs. Hartman said. “Both girls are hardworking and are advancing quickly with great success.” 8

Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine 2011-2012 Who’s Who Among CEI Students

John H. Shary Elementary Sharyland ISD, Mission, Texas Josie Granados, Facilitator Ms. Josie Granados has been working in the CEI Reading Lab at John H. Shary Elementary for the last 10 years. She has seen a tremendous improvement in her students due to the benefits of the CEI program. “Practice makes perfect” is what CEI is all about! Ms. Granados’ theme for her lab is “Wild about Reading.” The jungle theme is displayed throughout the classroom. The lab is adorned with snakes, storybook characters, monkeys, and her special gorilla that overlooks the water fountain. If you ask any of her students, they will tell you how much they love her class! Ms. Granados is most rewarded when her students excel in reading. “The real test is when my students take their mastery lessons and pass! Just seeing the huge smiles on their faces is like winning a first place trophy in a marathon.” This year Ms. Granados would like to recognize several hardworking students who have achieved success in reading: Second Grader Abran Lozano has been working with CEI for the past three years. This year he has competed 22 lessons. Super! Fourth grader ADRIAN CHAPA has been excelling with CEI for the past four years. During the 20011-12 school year alone, he had already gained a full grade level in reading as of mid-March. Way to go, Adrian! Kindergartner Brandon Garza has mastered CEI’s Letter Recognition and has started on Level I, Lesson 1 in ELS. Keep up the great work! First grader Dariella Cardenas recently celebrated her birthday and also completed CEI’s Lesson 20! You are a star! Dyana De Leon, a second grader at Shary Elementary, is doing an excellent job this year with CEI. She has already completed 32 lessons! Fantastic, Dyana! Kindergartner Jacqueline has also mastered CEI’s Letter Recognition and has started on ELS Level I, Lesson 1. Way to go!

Fourth grader KATE RODRIGUEZ started in the CEI lab when she was in the first grade. Last year, she received commended performance on her third grade TAKS reading test. This year — her fourth year in the lab — she had already completed 17 lessons in Gold C as of mid-March. Excellent work, Kate! First grader Lamberto Hernandez is showing great success at the CEI lab this year! He is already close to completing Lesson 34. Awesome job! This is fourth grader Leif Stroop’s first year at Shary Elementary, and he already holds the record for Quick Pick. WOW! He loves to read and has read his first Harry Potter book. This is third grader Ryan Longoria’s fourth year with CEI, and he enjoys reading. This year alone, Ryan has read 200 books! He plans to read 200 by the end of the year! You can do it, Ryan! Third grader Sara Sanchez is in her first year at Shary’s CEI lab. She likes to read and has shown tremendous improvement on her handwriting. Great job, Sara!

Shepherd Intermediate Shepherd ISD, Shepherd, Texas Debbie Swiech, Facilitator Atlantis Holden is a third grader at Shepherd Intermediate in Shepherd, Texas. In August, Atlantis started the MLS program with Single Digit Subtraction. She is now learning Single and Double-Digit Multiplication. She really likes using the manipulatives as she learns. And learn, Atlantis has! Since August, she has completed 42 lessons, and her Continuous Progress Monitoring reports indicate 72% growth. Since her Diagnostic Screening Test: Math (DST:M) Pre-Test, she has gained over eight months in addition, almost seven months in subtraction, and four years in multiplication. Additionally, Atlantis’ third grade teacher, Ms. Shores, proudly reports that her math grade has improved from a 69 to an 83! Regarding Atlantis, facilitator Debbie Swiech said, “She is a joy to work with and always works very hard. Atlantis tells me she is excited that I chose her for the hard work she has done in CEI math lab. When Atlantis starts a new phase, she looks and me and says, ‘I can’t do this.’ Once she starts the phase, the look on her face and the confidence that I see makes my job easy.”


Carlos Salazar

Rori Prelli

Ford Thomas

Millie Williams

Sophie Williams

Rebekah Bailey

Abran Lozano

Adrian Chapa

Brandon Garza

Dariella Cardenas

Dyana De Leon

Jacqueline

Kate Rodriguez

Lamberto Hernandez

Leif Stroop

Ryan Longoria

Sara Sanchez

Atlantis Holden Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine Celebrating 25 years of making a difference

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Ashley Soto

Audrey Ramirez

Jacelle Reyes

Jasmine Soltero

Angel Gonzalez

Angel Ceniceros

Fabian Blanco

Diego Prohaska

Hueco Elementary School Socorro ISD, El Paso, Texas Karen Cooper, Facilitator Hueco Elementary School ELS facilitator Karen Cooper says, “I would like to express how proud I am of all my students and their many accomplishments. I believe that working in the ELS lab gave them the confidence needed to be so successful.” Ashley Soto is a first grader at Hueco Elementary School. When Ashley began working in the ELS lab, she was very shy and quiet. Her participation in the lab helped her overcome her shyness and instilled in her a greater level of confidence, which is reflected in her classroom work. Ashley completes her assignments in lab and is always eager to move on to the next lesson. Audrey Ramirez is a first grade student at Hueco Elementary School. When Audrey began working in the ELS lab, she had no trouble catching on to the lessons. Ms. Cooper very seldom has had to remind her to keep on task. Audrey is ahead of the rest of her class and wants to keep it that way. She is motivated, uses her time wisely, and is confident in herself and her work.

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Angel Gonzalez, Angel Ceniceros, and Fabian Blanco are all second-grade students. This is their first year working in the ELS lab. All of them work diligently on their lessons and have shown growth in the program. Their determination to succeed is helping them become excellent readers. Diego Prohaska, a second grader, has hunkered down and gotten right to business. Without much difficulty, Diego has been able to fly through the lessons. He demonstrates an eagerness to learn and work hard. The success Diego has experienced in the ELS lab has greatly improved his reading skills. Also a second grader, Juan Meza has made tremendous progress this year. Ms. Cooper notices the improvement in each lesson that he does. Juan’s confidence shines every day. Second grader Natalie Norez comes to the lab with a wonderful attitude. She is always eager to get started. She is focused on the lesson at hand and always aims for excellent scores. She loves to compete with fellow students Diego and Juan. Since competition motivates her, the facilitators encourage her to keep it up!

Jacelle Reyes is just finishing her first year working in the ELS lab. Jacelle always tries to be the first one logged in and working on her lesson. Karen admires her eagerness and willingness to learn. Jacelle works really hard to make perfect scores, especially on Copy-Write Words and Sentences.

St. Gall Catholic School Archdiocese of Chicago Chicago, Illinois Jennifer Burns, Facilitator

Jasmine Soltero is a first grader at Hueco Elementary School. She enjoys working in the ELS lab. Jasmine does exceptionally well maneuvering her way through the ELS program. She loves to challenge herself with Copy-Write Words and Sentences and Word Building and Clues worksheets.

The ELS lab at St. Gall Catholic School on the south side of Chicago serves students from Kindergarten through fifth grade. However, there is one student who stands out among the rest. Zitlalic Varela (not pictured), a third-grade student at St. Gall, is in her second year in the ELS lab. This is also her second year in the United States. When

Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine 2011-2012 Who’s Who Among CEI Students

Zitlalic came to St. Gall’s last year, she started out in Letter Recognition and now has already reached Level I, Lesson 13 in ELS. Facilitator Jennifer Burns says, “She has made extraordinary progress in these past two years. She works hard and is motivated and eager to learn. The most rewarding thing to see is her growing confidence in knowing the English language. She is excited to read and even encourages other students to read more.” The ELS lab has been a big factor in the development of Zitlalic’s understanding of the English language. Ms. Burns is hoping she continues to see this type of enthusiasm in future non-English speakers who attend her lab. Keep up the great job, Zitlalic!

St. Nicholas of Tolentine Archdiocese of Chicago Chicago, Illinois Donna Radtke, Facilitator At St. Nicholas of Tolentine School in Chicago, Illinois, many students are excelling because of the outstanding ELS program facilitated by Donna Radtke. One such student excels in many different areas, especially in the way that he is able to help his fellow classmates. Jason Ramirez is an amazing bilingual sixth grade student in the after-school program at St. Nicholas. Because he is bilingual, he is always ready and willing to help translate words for those students who are not familiar with English. Ms. Radtke says, “Jason is self-motivated and very proud of being bilingual. When someone needs a word translated, he doesn’t hesitate to stop what he is doing to help out.” He is very close to completing the ELS program and prides himself on the vast vocabulary he has acquired through ELS. Ms. Radtke also wants to congratulate Jason on being named Student of the Year!


Juan Meza

Natalie Norez

Jason Ramirez

Maria Medrano

Melany Pizano

Paulina Flores

Elizabeth Rybarczyk is a wonderful new first grade student at St. Nicholas of Tolentine School. Her classroom teacher, Ms. Schmid, says, “Elizabeth has a positive attitude in all the things she says and does.” When new students enter ELS for the first time, it usually takes some “getting adjusted” time to adapt to all of the procedures of the lab. Elizabeth works extremely hard, learning new words, printing her Copy-Write, and even self-editing her work. Ms. Radtke has seen a big improvement in Elizabeth’s reading and handwriting and says she is truly a role model for all students in the lab. That’s amazing for such a young student. Youth Development Center Houston, Texas Debra Asberry, ELS Facilitator Brenda Colbert, MLS Facilitator Maria Medrano is a third-grade student at A.G. Hilliard Elementary in North Forest ISD. After school, Maria attends the Youth Development Center (YDC) After School Program, where she is showing tremendous improvement in math. Although this is Maria’s first year at YDC, she has really begun to blossom. Initially, she came into the program a very shy student who needed additional assistance in math and reading. However, because she has been dedicated and focused on improving her math skills, Maria has shown impressive gains in math. Maria effortlessly completes her MLS lessons on a daily basis and tries to do more when she can. Also, she has become a leader in her “Equip” group and on the YDC campus. Now that Maria has confidence in math, she has become driven to finish her math lessons quickly and accurately. YDC Program Director Mrs. Rhonda Mays notes, “Maria is really doing well in the program, and I can see from her math progress report

that this program has really helped improve her benchmark assessments in math at her school!” MLS facilitator Brenda Colbert adds, “I have noticed great improvements in Maria’s confidence level and her desire to excel. Mrs. Colbert voices the motivational chant they say when someone has exceeded the daily goal in the CEI math lab: “Looking good, looking good, Maria is looking real good in math!” The kids really enjoy the chant and the immediate recognition! Melany Pizano, a fourth grader attending Crawford Elementary School in Houston, is an outstanding student in the YDC After School Program. She has been in the program for two years. She enters the ELS lab eager to get started with completing lessons. Although most students take two to three days to complete one lesson, Melany manages to complete three lessons in a four-day week of using the ELS program. Her goals are to complete Levels III and IV and begin Level V by the end of the year. Facilitator Debra Asberry believes that will happen for Melany. “She is a go-getter, very motivated. Melany is on Level IV, Lesson 2. She has mastered 28 out of 40 Pre-Tests and has a Pre-Test average of 89%, which means that she has never had to recycle a lesson. Melany has completed 36 lessons in ELS and has shown an overall improvement of 9%.” Mrs. Asberry adds, “YOU GO, MELANY!!” Melany also has supporters in her classroom teacher Ms. Silerio and in her parents. Ms. Silerio boasts, “Melany is one of the most responsible students in my class. In fact, she is my top student.” Mrs. Angela Nino, Melany’s mother, adds, “Melany is just an outstanding child. I love her creativity and her outspoken personality.” According to Mr. Jaime Pizano, Melany’s father, “Melany is the sweetest, smartest, and prettiest girl in my house.”

Elizabeth Rybarczyk

All of these attributes make Melany the enthusiastic student she is in the ELS lab. She is an example of a student who is on a mission in her Equip class. She is certainly on the right track to completing the program. Paulina Flores is a sixth grader at Escamilla Intermediate School in Houston’s Aldine ISD. This is Paulina’s first year in the Youth Development Center After School Literacy Program, but she is working her way through the ELS lessons with great confidence and enthusiasm. Facilitator Asberry explains, “Paulina comes to the ELS lab ready and determined to work and complete lessons. She sets the bar for our students in the Guide class. She is motivated and she achieves the goals she sets for herself. So far, her goals include continuing to pass all of her Post-Tests, mastering the Pre-Tests put before her, completing Levels II and III, and ending with Level IV by May.” Mrs. Asberry adds, “She strives to complete a lesson a day for the four-day week in the YDC. At this time in the program, she is on Level II, Lesson 22. She has completed 21 lessons in ELS and mastered 16 out of 24 Pre-Tests. Also, she has an 85% average on Pre-Tests, and a 97% average on Post-Tests for an overall improvement of 12%. Paulina is someone her Guide classmates can look up to for inspiration. YOU GO, GIRL!!”

Creative Education Institute SHARE Magazine Celebrating 25 years of making a difference

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SHARE Magazine, Spring/Summer 2012