St. Stephen Middle School Student Receives Prestigious National Award

One of Only 15 to Earn National Distinction

Za'Kwon Bowens

May 16, 2017 (ST. STEPHEN) – Za’Kwon Bowens, a student at St. Stephen Middle School, has been named a recipient of the prestigious 2017 National 180 Student Award, which recognizes 15 students across the United States who overcame significant challenges to become thriving, successful learners.

The 180 Awards program, now in its eleventh year, honors students nationwide who, along with the help of their teachers, have learned to read and comprehend math skills and are now on the path to success.

Za’Kwon had been a struggling reader since first grade. Since starting READ 180, his mindset and behavior toward reading has changed. He now enjoys reading in and out of the classroom. One of his favorite things to read is a speech Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered to a group of middle school students called, What’s in Your Life’s Blueprint. Ms. Allison Crawford, Za’kwon’s teacher who nominated him for the 180 Student Awards, is proud of him for his Lexile growth, as well as his positive attitude and mature behavior. Za’Kwon’s Lexile score has increased by a remarkable 134 percent.

“His remarkable progress has helped our school become believers in what Read 180 can do for struggling readers,” said Ms. Allison Crawford.

Za’Kwon will be awarded with a $500 check, and Ms. Crawford will receive READ 180 materials for the school. The 180 Student Award nominations are carefully reviewed by a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt committee that takes into account not only student growth, but also personal achievements as detailed in the student’s statement and the teacher’s testimonial.

For more information about READ 180 Student Awards, please visit or