Education

Cheyenne East’s Paula Wright Named Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award Recipient

Cheyenne (April 25, 2003) — As a kindergarten student, Paula Wright once informed her teacher that she would tell a story and afterward lead the class in singing and art. “She complied!” recalls Wright. “After a taste of teaching, there was no turning back, and here I am today!

“I teach because I have great ideas and the energy to turn them into lessons,” she adds. “A powerful teacher seeks ways to transmit information, and my mind is always scanning the world for ways to help kids comprehend.”

Wright’s students will have no problem understanding the significance of their teacher’s latest achievement. Wright 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 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.”

Wright teaches French courses at Cheyenne East High School, Cheyenne. “The most important thing that I do for my students is give them a realistic understanding of language learning, which is an arduous task, requiring years of exposure,” she notes. “Seventh-graders optimistically count to 20 and name 10 colors, but they can’t express their innermost feelings or discuss current events.

“I want fluency to be a goal, albeit a distant one, so I never shelter kids from real language,” Wright adds. “Since I can’t take all students abroad to immerse them, I insist they become readers, for I feel reading is the best way to demonstrate to them how words operate logically in French. Daily, I seek articles, novels, drama and compose books, so beginners as well as advanced students are always reading."

Wright earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn., and she is currently working on a theology degree. She continues her education and keeps her French language capacities “honed” through college courses, workshops, on-line classes, affiliation with the Denver Alliance Francaise and University of Denver, and through frequent trips to France. Wright has earned a number of awards and several grants. She further serves her community through involvement in a variety of civic, cultural, church and other education-related initiatives.

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.