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News Release
For Immediate Release Contact:Bill Reinhard, MSDE, 410-767-0486 or
Melanie Scharler, Disney Publishing, 212-633-5957 Elissa Lynch, Diamond Comic Distributors, 410-560-7100, ext. 389
Important news for the public NEWS RELEASE

BALTIMORE, MD (May 3, 2007)

Maryland teachers piloting the state’s unique Maryland Comics in the Classroom Initiative rate the program an effective, enjoyable education tool that enhances student interest in reading and produces positive results.


The Comics in the Classroom program uses classic Disney comics in 10 active lessons for the third and fourth grades. Working with Disney Publishing Worldwide and Diamond Comic Distributors, MSDE developed materials for several grade levels that are being piloted at various schools throughout the state.


A new evaluation of the program found that two in three teachers using the program rated it positively or very positively. Lessons are challenging and sparked student interest in reading, the study said. Nearly 70 percent of students involved in the program said it helped make them a better reader.


The evaluation, completed by educational researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, also offered ideas to improve the program, such as adding a teacher usage introduction and providing additional flexibility in vocabulary use and instruction.


“Reading is such an important activity for all children, and using comic book-related lessons offers teachers an important new tool to draw students into the world of words,” said Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. “This project enhances other work that goes on in the reading class. Comic books and graphic novels cannot replace other forms of literature, but they can be an entry point for some reluctant readers.”


“We are proud to work with the Maryland State Department of Education and Diamond Comic Distributors on this groundbreaking initiative,” said Jonathan Yaged, vice president and U.S. publisher, Disney Publishing Worldwide. “It is inspiring to see how Disney characters and comics can be used in the classroom to help children read and learn.”


“Promoting the legitimate applications of comics as an educational tool has long been a passion of mine,” said Diamond Comic Distributors President and CEO Steve Geppi. “Comics are the foundation on which my fervor for reading developed, and it's validating to see the students of Maryland using comics as learning tools.”


MSDE’s broader graphic literature program, the Comic Book Initiative, began in September 2004 to explore the use of comics and graphic novels in classroom settings. It was developed by a creative team that includes award-winning teachers, reading specialists, educational administrators, library specialists, comic book authors, and publishers. This unique statewide project does not mandate comic books or replace traditional classroom materials. Rather, the program provides options for teachers as they seek to encourage reading in students of all ages.


The Disney Comics in the Classroom Initiative was piloted in eight schools, representing seven school systems. Additional kits will be made available for the 2007-2008 school year, and more pilot are scheduled to take place. The project has received a great deal of acclaim, and was featured in a well-received presentation during the International Reading Association convention in San Antonio. MSDE will be soliciting additional feedback from educators in an effort to continue to refine the materials offered through this program.

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Disney Educational Productions has created world-class educational programming for grades K-12 over the past 60 years. Combining curriculum standards with Disney magic, the library of award-winning DVDs, videos, and interactive media includes diverse titles such as Bill Nye the Science Guy, ABC News Classroom, educational versions of classic Disney films, and more. Disney Educational Productions is a division of Disney Publishing Worldwide (DPW), a leading publisher of children’s comics worldwide, with 350 DPW comic magazines read in more than 80 countries around the globe. DPW is the world’s largest publisher of children’s books and magazines with 441 children’s magazines published and 120 million children’s books sold each year. Headquartered in New York, DPW publishes books and magazines in 85 languages in 75 countries, reaching more than 100 million readers each month. 


Founded in 1982 and headquartered in Timonium, MD, Diamond Comic Distributors is the world's largest distributor of American comic books, graphic novels, and related pop culture merchandise. The company's founder, President & CEO Stephen A. Geppi, credits comic books with helping him learn to read and is a strong believer in the educational merits of the medium.


The Maryland State Department of Education provides leadership, support, and accountability for the state’s 24 public school systems serving more than 850,000 students. MSDE also extends leadership and support to the state’s early childhood development, library services, and rehabilitation services programs.



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