Beitel Elementary Teacher Dona Coffey Receives Arch Coal Teacher Award

Casper – Laramie’s Dona Lamb Coffey, who teaches at Beitel Elementary, says she "never looked back after deciding to become a teacher.” Today, she became one of only 10 teachers in the state to receive a 2001 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award.

With the announcement, Arch Coal also presented Coffey a $2,500 cash award, according to Arch Coal Vice President Terry O’Connor, who told an assembly at McKinley Elementary School in Casper that “teachers are entrusted with Wyoming’s most valuable resource – its children.” O’Connor was joined at the awards ceremony by Governor Jim Geringer, State Superintendent Judy Catchpole and Wyoming Education Association President Gary McDowell.

Coffey, who teaches kindergarten, believes each student is a unique learner and brings to his or her learning an individual style and unique background knowledge. Her students made an alphabet book with their picture on the cover, taken with Coffey’s digital camera. To complete this book, each child included drawings of things that began with the letter of their first name.

“I am an advocate for children. I value honesty and truth and believe that it is imperative to tell parents truthfully how the children are doing,” Coffey says. “I believe there is no more important renewable resource than our children.”

“Dona’s knowledge of child development, combined with her never-ending quest to build on what she knows and to inform herself of meaningful education practices, has enabled her to positively impact the lives of many children,” says colleague Charlene Turner.

Dr. Tami Deal, a professor at the University of Wyoming, is responsible for training pre-service teachers. She also had a child in Coffey’s class. “My son approached every school day with such enthusiasm and vigor that the kindergarten day had to continue into the evening, with his mom and dad playing ‘school’ with him until bedtime!” Deal says. “I firmly believe that his excitement about learning was largely a product of the learning culture Mrs. Coffey created in her classroom.”

“Besides creating a classroom environment that embraces the best of what we know as good, sound, research-based practice, Dona continues to give to her school in many capacities beyond that of classroom teacher,” says co-worker Sherri-lyn Harrison. “I consider myself fortunate to work with her and share in her enthusiasm.”

Coffey holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hastings College, Hastings, Neb., and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Wyoming.

This was the inaugural year of the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards in Wyoming. Arch Coal is the nation’s second largest coal producer. Arch employs more than 500 people in Wyoming and produces more than 60 million tons of clean-burning, low-sulfur coal annually at its Wyoming operations. The company’s Black Thunder operation in Campbell County is one of the nation’s largest and most efficient coal mines. Arch Coal is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACI) and makes its corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.