News & Media

12 Receive Prestigious Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards in West Virginia

April 17, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (April 17, 2009) - Twelve outstanding West Virginia classroom teachers, with almost 350 years of combined teaching experience, today received prestigious Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards during a ceremony at the Clay Center.

Joining Arch Coal Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steven F. Leer in honoring the 12 were Governor Joe Manchin, First Lady Gayle Manchin and West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) President Dale Lee.

The 12 award recipients are:

Diana Benedum Creed Collins Elementary School Pennsboro
Drema G. Bias Chapmanville Middle School Chapmanville
Gayla J. Hickle Parkersburg High School Parkersburg
Rick Kinder Gilmer County High School Glenville
Cathy Linger Tennerton Elementary School Buckhannon
Carol Mathis Hayes Middle School St. Albans
Eric Minigh Blennerhassett Middle School Parkersburg
Patty Florence Sayre Parkersburg High School Parkersburg
Gretchen E. Shaffer Morgantown High School Morgantown
Ray Singleton Horace Mann Middle School Charleston
Janet B. Sisler Moorefield Middle School Moorefield
Rhonda Tennant New Haven Elementary School New Haven

"Teaching, like coal mining, has changed significantly over the years," said Leer. "For example, technology is now more commonplace in both the mine and the classroom. So, too, are the educational levels of miners and teachers. Today's workforce, whether it be in a mine, classroom or factory, must be highly educated, competent and able to produce products that can compete at a global level."

"What will not change is the importance Arch Coal places on the professionalism, innovation and passion classroom teachers bring to their students every day," said Leer. "Arch Coal counts on classroom teachers to foster a love of learning in their students and to maximize their abilities. We believe the teachers honored here today are truly exceptional. We celebrate these 'stars' of the teaching profession in West Virginia."

"I commend Arch Coal for its outstanding commitment to support education throughout our state and region," Gov. Manchin said. "Teachers are truly the foundation of our future, fostering the growth and development of West Virginia's brightest minds. Arch Coal is a great partner to our state and this annual teacher recognition program is a testament of Arch Coal's unwavering commitment to education and to our state's future. In addition, I congratulate the teachers who are recognized, for they are top-notch educators who are making a positive difference in their profession."

"In education, being recognized by your peers as a 'highly qualified' teacher, who engages students, inspires learning, and facilitates student centered classrooms engaged in 21st century learning, is a pinnacle of success," said First Lady Manchin. "However, to be recognized by the business community, especially a corporation with the magnitude and economic dominance of Arch Coal, takes that recognition to an entirely different level. Then, we are truly saying that the business world recognizes and celebrates the importance of the role of excellent teachers in the lives of our children and the future of our state - and is a magnificent acknowledgement!"

"WVEA is pleased to once again partner with Arch Coal for the Teacher Achievement Awards," stated Lee. "It is refreshing to find a corporation such as Arch Coal that understands the value of teaching and the dedication of West Virginia's teachers to the academic success of their students. It is even rarer to find one that is willing to create and finance a program to honor those teachers. WVEA wants to thank Arch Coal and all the outstanding teachers throughout the state of West Virginia for their commitment to public education."

"The judges for these awards are prior recipients of the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award," said John R. Snider, Arch Coal vice president, eastern external affairs. "I spoke with the judges, and they were impressed with this year's applicants and their extremely high scores. Every year, the quality of the applications increases, which I believe indicates the quality of West Virginia's teachers is growing, too."

In addition to recognition, award recipients receive a $3,500 unrestricted cash prize, a distinctive trophy and a classroom plaque. The West Virginia Foundation for the Improvement of Education (WVFIE), a foundation operated by WVEA, makes a $1,000 award to recipients from public schools, for use with at-risk students.

"Arch Coal is especially pleased that WVEA has continued to partner in promoting this program," said Snider. "The grant from WVFIE shows that industry and the teaching profession share an interest in recognizing the substantial contributions made by classroom teachers."

Arch Coal is supported by the West Virginia Department of Education, WVEA and the West Virginia Library Commission in program promotion. Arch Coal's Teacher Achievement Awards is the longest running, privately sponsored teacher recognition program in the state. More than 400 teacher nominations were made by the public this school year.

Arch Coal is one of the nation's largest coal producers. Through its national network of mines, Arch supplies the fuel for approximately 6 percent of the electricity generated in the United States. In West Virginia, Arch Coal subsidiaries operate the Mountain Laurel and Coal-Mac operations. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACI) and maintains its corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.

Information about each of the 12 recipients is posted on the Arch Coal Web site: