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Author, Entrepreneur Honored with 2021 Gould Award

Posted on April 22, 2021

Michèle Dufresne carries many titles – acclaimed children’s book author, teacher, consultant, entrepreneur and CEO.

She now adds another title to her collection – winner of the 2021 AIM John Gould Education and Workforce Training Award.

AIM announced today that it will honor Dufresne and her company, Pioneer Valley Books of Northampton, for their longtime commitment to teaching children to read. Pioneer Valley Books offers fiction and nonfiction books and other resources for Reading Recovery, primary classroom, and literacy teachers with the goal of providing engaging stories and teaching materials that help children to develop strong literacy skills and a love of reading.

The company is also being honored for its swift transition in 2020 to providing literacy materials online to school systems and children who were force into remote learning by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Michèle Dufresne and Pioneer Valley Books embrace innovation, creativity and uncanny business acumen – all in the service of helping children throughout the country learn the joy of reading,” said John Regan, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.

“Literacy is the foundation of the educational achievement that is so important to the future of Massachusetts and our economy. There can be no more deserving recipient of the Gould Education and Workforce Training Award.”

Dufresne will accept the award virtually during the 2021 AIM Annual Meeting on May 14 at 10:30 am.

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Pioneer Valley Books was founded in 1998 as Pioneer Valley Educational Press in Amherst to provide books for children learning to read. The company has since grown into a significant publisher with hundreds of titles and a growing selection of innovative literacy teaching resources.

Pioneer Valley Books employs 60 people at its headquarters on Industrial Drive in Northampton.

Dufresne is a former literacy specialist who has turned her commitment to teaching children to read into a focus of her writing, speaking, and teaching. She is the best-selling author of the Bella and Rosie series and many other fiction and nonfiction books used by teachers nationally and internationally.

Together with Jan Richardson, she has coauthored the best-selling Literacy Footprints Guided Reading system, which helps teachers deliver guided reading to students in K–6 classrooms.

In fall 2019, Dufresne and Richardson co-authored, The Next Step Forward in Word Study and Phonics, which was published by Scholastic.  She is also the author of Word Solvers: Making Sense of Letters and Sounds, published by Heinemann Publishing.

Dufresne has recently worked on a collection of new books for grades 3–6 that includes high-interest fiction and nonfiction and graphic novels about Greek myths. Her book Oki and the Polar Bear won the 2017 Moonbeam Silver Award.

Publications from Pioneer Valley Books are geared to students from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, elementary schoolers with special needs, and English Language Learners. Characters, story lines, and themes that appeal to young children are developed into books that really ‘work.’

Dufresne holds a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts. She has been a classroom teacher, language arts specialist, Title 1 director, and Reading Recovery teacher leader, and has served as a consultant in school districts across the United States.

The Gould Award was established in 1998 to recognize the contributions of individuals, employers, and institutions to the quality of public education and to the advancement, employability, and productivity of residents of the Commonwealth.

In 2000, the award was named after the late John Gould, upon his retirement as President and CEO of AIM, to recognize his work to improve the quality of public education and workforce training in Massachusetts.

Past recipients of the Gould Award include the late Jack Rennie, Chairman and Founder of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education; Middlesex Community College; Gordon Lankton, President and CEO (retired), NYPRO Inc.; William Edgerly, Chairman Emeritus, State Street Corporation; Northeastern University; The Davis Family Foundation; Intel Massachusetts; EMC Corporation; IBM; David Driscoll Commissioner (Retired) Massachusetts Department of Education; State Street Corporation and Year UP Boston; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership; Brockton High School; the Manufacturing Advancement Center – MACWIC Program; Christo Rey Boston High School; CVS and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission; Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries, the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership, SnapChef and The Base.