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PRESS RELEASE

August 01, 2007

Tom Butler
(850) 245-0413

Award Winning Author Sharon Draper to Speak at the Sixth Annual Just Read, Florida! K-12 Leadership Conference

ORLANDO – New York Times bestselling author Sharon Draper will address more than 4,600 superintendents, principals, reading coaches and district staff in the opening general session of the sixth annual Just Read, Florida! K-12 Leadership Conference at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando. Sharon M. Draper, a four-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Literary Award, is a professional educator and has been honored as the 1997 National Teacher of the Year. Other speakers for Monday’s event include Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottkamp, State Board of Education Chairman T. Willard Fair and Just Read, Florida! Executive Director Dr. Evan Lefsky.

“Sharon Draper’s successful teaching and writing career has inspired so many across the nation to strive for excellence,” said Education Commissioner Jeanine Blomberg. “She is a shining example that dreams are never out of our reach.”

After becoming one of the first teachers in the nation to achieve National Board Certification in English/Language Arts, Ms. Draper was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She is currently on the Board of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future. Her award-winning essay on education, "The Touch of a Teacher," was published by the National Governor's Association in What Governors Need To Know About Education.

Her literary recognition began when, as a challenge from one of her students, she entered and won first prize in a literary contest, where she was awarded $5,000 for her short story, "One Small Torch." She has published numerous poems, articles, and short stories in a variety of literary journals. She is the published author of Tears of a Tiger, Forged by Fire, Darkness Before Dawn, Romiette and Julio, Double Dutch, The Battle of Jericho, Copper Sun, November Blues, Fire from the Rock, We Beat the Street, Teaching from the Heart, Not Quite Burned Out But Crispy Around the Edges, and the Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs series.

Sharon Draper spent more than 30 years teaching junior high and high school students on how to appreciate the beauty of literature and how to communicate their ideas effectively. Currently, she lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she taught high school English for 25 years.