Education

Felicia Burger-Westfall Keeps Promise to Music Students; Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Scott Depot (April 30) – Upon her graduation from Marshall University 26 years ago, Felicia J. Burger-Westfall made a silent vow to herself: She would someday provide children the same quality music education she had received.

Today, Burger-Westfall, who teaches music in the Washington District and Tennerton Elementary schools in Upshur County, became one of only 10 West Virginia teachers to receive a 2002 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. It is recognition that she has kept her promise.

Arch Coal President and Chief Executive Officer Steven F. Leer presented the award, accompanied by Gov. Bob Wise, Secretary of Education and Arts Kay Goodwin, State Schools Superintendent David Stewart, and West Virginia Education Association President Tom Lange, at an awards ceremony at Scott Teays Elementary School in Scott Depot.

“Each year, we are thrilled with the exceptional level of talent we see in West Virginia teachers,” says Leer. “The careful selection process – by a blue-ribbon panel of peer judges – makes the award that much more distinguished. I’m glad Arch can have a small part in recognizing the many teachers in West Virginia who bring the magic of learning into our children’s classrooms every day.”

“I build students’ confidence by encouraging every effort to participate and to improve,” says Burger-Westfall. “I try to help students believe in themselves, to enjoy and perform music, and to appreciate Appalachian mountain music.”

“She is a dynamic teacher, who has made a difference in my children’s lives,” says Lynn Frasure, a parent of three of Burger-Westfall’s students.

“She has earned the respect of the students and adults whose lives she impacts by being a positive role model,” says colleague Sandra Currence.“

“Felicia makes music class ‘fun learning,’ ” says Darla Edgell, one of her supervising principals. “She has high expectations for each student, but at the same time, they are motivated to want to learn the music curriculum.”

“I prefer ‘honey’ and humor to confrontational methods,” explains Burger-Westfall of her teaching style. “In fact, I have called my students ‘honeybunnies’ for years, and many of my early ‘honeybunnies’ are parents of current students!”

Burger-Westfall also has a master’s degree from Marshall University. She is active in area community theaters and often performs at school, community and church activities. She also performs in Appalachian heritage programs in period dress as “Aunt Jane.”

In addition to recognition, each award recipient receives a $2,500, unrestricted cash award and a handmade bronze apple. The Arch Coal teacher recognition program features public nomination and peer selection.

Arch Coal has support from the West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Education Association, and Speedway in promoting the program. Arch Coal’s teacher awards program is one of the longest running in the state.

Arch Coal is the nation’s second largest coal producer and a supplier of clean-burning, low-sulfur coal exclusively. Approximately 2,000 people are employed at Arch’s operations in West Virginia. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACI) and maintains its corporate headquarters in St. Louis.