Education

White Mountain’s Patricia Urasky Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Cheyenne (April 25, 2003) — “There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the enlightened look on a student’s face when learning occurs,” explains Patricia Urasky. “The most important thing I do for students is to let them know I care about them as individuals, and I care about their success.

“Each of us must remain professional in all our contacts with students, parents, the community, and with other teachers. We must keep our standards and expectations high and not fall to a mediocre level,” Urasky says.

There’s nothing mediocre about Urasky. She is one of only 10 Wyoming teachers to receive a 2003 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Steven F. Leer, Arch Coal president and chief executive officer, made the announcement, accompanied by Governor Dave Freudenthal, Deputy Superintendent of Education Mary Kay Hill, and Kathryn Valido, a member of the executive committee of the Wyoming Education Association, during a ceremony at Cheyenne East High School.

“In this third year of our teacher recognition program in Wyoming, we continue to see teacher excellence across the state,” says Leer. “We believe outstanding teachers are the cornerstone of a good education. These recipients bring the magic of learning into their classrooms every day, and they have experience, expertise and a passion for learning themselves.”

Urasky teaches math courses at White Mountain Junior High, Rock Springs, Wyo. “I teach with the discovery method as much as possible,” she notes. “Students need to challenge their misconceptions to be ready to accept new ideas. Letting a student discover a process himself instills a much deeper understanding with better retention than telling a student ‘how’ to solve a problem.

“Discovery also lets a student learn at his own level,” Urasky adds. “We learn from our mistakes. (I make them, too!) By keeping a positive atmosphere, fear of failure is decreased, and students are more willing to take risks in exploring new ideas.”

Urasky earned an associate’s degree at Triton Community College, River Grove, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb. She continues her education through a variety of initiatives, including NASA’s Educational Workshops. Urasky has presented at Vanguard Institute on Six Trait Reading, and she’s been a Mathcounts coach in her district for seven years. Last year, she participated in the National Science Foundation workshop, “Pattern Exploration: Integrating Mathematics and Science.” This summer, she will attend a University of Wyoming Mathematics Summer Institute on coding and cryptology for her fourth consecutive year. Urasky further serves her community through a variety of civic, church and other education-related activities.

In addition to recognition, award recipients receive a $2,500 unrestricted cash prize, a distinctive glass trophy and a framed certificate. The Arch Coal teacher recognition program features public nomination and peer selection. Arch Coal is supported by the Wyoming Department of Education, the Wyoming Education Association, Taco John’s and MiniMart in program promotion.

Arch Coal is the nation’s second largest coal producer and employs 600 people in Wyoming. Arch produces more than 65 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 maintains its corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.