Education

Shaffer Credits Love of Teaching, Children; Receives Prestigious Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Scott Depot (April 30) – For first-grade students in Kathy Shaffer’s class, learning geometric shapes is a real treat! These students at Grace Christian School in Huntington learn by eating sugar cones, allowing sugar cubes to melt on their tongues, eating rectangular KitKats, and chewing on spherically shaped gumballs.

Today, Shaffer received a treat of her own. She was one of only 10 teachers from West Virginia to be named an Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award recipient. 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 am still amazed by the process of learning and teaching,” says Shaffer. “I continue to be motivated by a love for children, a love for teaching, and a strong desire to impart not only knowledge, but wisdom and understanding.

“If teaching is my love, reading is the passion that drives that love,” she adds. “Reading is the taproot to all other learning. I strive to integrate the teaching of reading into every subject — not just in formal reading.”

“Sometimes teaching a student to read involves her doing so on her own time,” relates Roberta Daniels, parent of one of Shaffer’s pupils. “She wants to build a strong academic foundation in all children that will see them through their entire school career.”

“Only through knowing and experiencing her in the classroom and out can you understand what a treasure she is,” reports Pat Campbell, whose two sons were former students of Shaffer.

One of Shaffer’s greatest strengths is her ability to integrate subject matter content across the curriculum and to make it applicable to the students’ lives. In February, for example, students in her class studied the anatomy of teeth, graphed the results of a toothpaste test, welcomed a dentist to the class, and had many other activities related to teeth — all tied to National Dental Month. The month was concluded with a Nature’s toothbrush party, eating apples!

“There are many challenges facing education today, some of which are a reflection of the challenges facing homes and families,” Shaffer says. “Illnesses, financial concerns, broken relationships, preoccupation with personal problems, and many other cares of life affect parents that, in turn, affect children.” To help overcome these problems children face, Shaffer is very supportive of teacher training that encompasses both character and learning.

Shaffer has a bachelor of science degree from Bob Jones University and a master’s degree in Special Education from Marshall University.

In addition to recognition, each award recipient receives a $2,500, unrestricted cash prize and a distinctive glass trophy. 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.