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Dover Post
  • Dover High student defies the odds

  • Michael “Big Red” Hurd is good at a lot of things, math and football are among them. But for a long time Hurd struggled with reading. The Dover High senior is dyslexic, and when he looks at at words the letters appear scrambled, making it hard for him to read.
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  • Michael “Big Red” Hurd is good at a lot of things, math and football are among them. But for a long time Hurd struggled with reading. The Dover High senior is dyslexic, and when he looks at at words the letters appear scrambled, making it hard for him to read.
    “School was hard for me,” Hurd said. “I didn’t do a lot of the work. I just barely made it by with 70s.”
    Hurd entered the Capital School District in seventh grade, after leaving Providence Creek Charter School in Clayton, and was officially diagnosed with dyslexia. He was given and Individual Education Plan, which helped him get extra assistance with reading.
    When Hurd was in ninth grade he entered a program called Read 180, which is specifically designed to help those struggling with reading. Over the course of his high school career, Hurd went from reading at a basic level, to being on par with his fellow seniors.
    Scholastic, the company behind Read 180, honors students who have made significant progress in their reading ability, this year the company awarded Hurd the Read 180 All-Star Award at the high school level, beating out more than a dozen finalists for the title.
    When the 19-year-old began taking Read 180 four years ago, he felt like he would never be able to read and was just going through the motions. Hurd’s experience is common for students who struggle with reading, said Nori Pepper, Hurd’s Read 180 teacher.
    “Unfortunately, when kids get into high school, if they’re significantly below the average reading level, what happens is in all of their classes they’re lost,” Pepper said.
    Through the Read 180 program, students participate in individual and group activities and work on computers to improve their reading. Each marking period they take a test called the Scholastic Reading Inventory to measure their progress. Hurd started out with a score of 14, which means he was just at a basic reading level.
    When Hurd first entered her classroom as a freshman he was known for being disruptive in all of his classes, Pepper said.
    “Once he started to actually read and be engaged in the program and saw his scores grow he saw that he could actually do the work and read the work,” Pepper said. “From that point on he just excelled.”
    Hurd also had football as a driving force to push him. He had been playing football since seventh grade, started to get more into it during his freshman year of high school.
    “Coaches were talking to me, saying I had a good chance of going to college and college always sounds nice,” Hurd said.
    Page 2 of 2 - The First Team All-State offensive player found himself running a lot of extra laps and spending extra time in team study hall as a result of his grades during his freshman year, but by sophomore year things began to turn around. He made honor roll and has continued to make it since, and his Scholastic Reading Inventory test scores shot up to 893 by the end of that year. On his last test he scored a 1,083, average for his grade level.
    “I also just had a better work ethic and wanted to go to college, that’s where it came from,” he said. “I set a high goal and I reached it.”
    Hurd is set to graduate with honors at the end of May, making him one of few in his family to do so, and after the summer ends he will officially be the first person in his family to go to college.  He has been awarded an athletic scholarship at Delaware State University.
    “I’m excited to go to college,” Hurd said. “If I didn’t have a full ride I probably wouldn’t go, so football opened doors for me. I want to be better educated so I can get a good job and live a good life.”

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