Education

Cabell Midland’s Dixie M. Billheimer Earns Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Charleston − After her first year of college, Dixie M. Billheimer worked as a lifeguard and taught children how to swim. The children loved her and followed her around the pool all day long. For some reason, that didn’t annoy Billheimer, as it did other lifeguards. Little did she know, children were her future. “That was only the beginning of a career devoted to working with children,” notes Billheimer, now a teacher for 22 years. “I still love working with the children.”

Her love shows. Today Billheimer was one of only 10 teachers in the state to receive an Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award.

In making the announcement, Arch Coal President and Chief Executive Officer Steven F. Leer presented Billheimer with a $2,500 award. Also on hand to honor her were Governor Bob Wise, Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Stewart, and West Virginia Education Association President Tom Lange.

“Dixie Billheimer has my highest regard and respect, not only for her teaching abilities, but also for her humanity,” notes Cabell Midland High School Principal John Flowers. “She combines the teaching skills of a master teacher, a love of her students and a commitment to her school and community that makes her a very special person. She teaches students, not subjects.”

Billheimer, a math instructor at Cabell Midland High School, in Ona, considers motivation a challenge. “Much of our society feels fine about saying, ‘I’m not good at math,’ but would never reveal that they are not good at reading,” she says. “This is a big obstacle when it comes to teaching mathematics.”

She strives to help students realize they must continue to try if at first they don’t understand. “I always ask if they have ever seen a child learning to walk,” she explains. “What happens when the child falls? Have you ever heard a parent say, ‘Oh, just stay down there, you will never learn to walk?’ No, never,” Billheimer says. “Mathematics is very similar. We must continue to think, look, probe and use many problem-solving techniques to be successful.

“As a teacher, my job every day is to convey the love of learning to children, to help each child strive to reach its fullest potential, to promote diversity and to help students become productive citizens of the world,” she says.

Dr. Barbara Maynard, program development director for RESA II, has been Billheimer’s colleague for about 13 years, during which, she has witnessed her “tireless effort” and “outstanding creativity.” “She is extremely knowledgeable in mathematics content and pedagogy,” Maynard notes. “Her students … have performed consistently above state and national averages. Many have graduated with honors and have been very successful in post-secondary education and careers, especially the field of mathematics.”

Billheimer earned both her bachelor’s degree in secondary education and master’s degree in reading education at Marshall University, Huntington, W.Va.

Arch Coal in the nation’s second largest coal producer. Arch employs about 2,000 people in West Virginia. Arch Coal is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACI) and makes its corporate headquarters in St., Louis, Mo.