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Cottage Street Literacy Specialist Wins Lincoln Fellowship

Leslie Shapiro is among 50 educators nationwide headed to the 16th president's library and museum.

literacy specialist and Abraham Lincoln fan Leslie Shapiro's response to a surprise Thursday was "You have no idea what this means to me."

"Yes we do," a group of her colleagues, gathered in the school library, replied.

Shapiro is among 50 Kindergarten to grade 12 educators -- three from Massachusetts -- receiving Horace Mann-Abraham Lincoln Fellowships to study the 16th president during a five-day institute at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill.

The fellowship funds round-trip transportation, lodging and most meals, according to a Horace Mann press release.

"I've loved studying Lincoln all of my life," Shapiro said during Thursday's ceremony.

"Last year, I applied for this, and I did not get chosen, and I was very disappointed.

"I wasn't going to apply this year. At the last minute, I decided, 'I'll try again, but this is it. If I don't make it, then it's not meant to be.'"

This year, Shapiro was among 10 applicants chosen "via Facebook voting, based on a photo and response to an essay question," according to the press release.

"The remaining Facebook entries and entries submitted via the Horace Mann web site were judged; judges were other educators," the release states.

"Fellows will get behind-the-scenes knowledge of the library and museum and enjoy visits to other historical sites -- New Salem, Lincoln's home, Lincoln's tomb, and the Old State Capitol. Fellows will also hear from experts on Lincoln's life and the Civil War era. Past topics have included a look at Lincoln the lawyer, Lincoln as president, political cartoons in the classroom, Civil War medical practices, and 'Ghosts of the Library.'"

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