Education

Ron Lathey Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Charleston (March 6, 2003) – Ron Lathey knew what he would do with his life at a very young age. “A teacher is all I have ever wanted to be, since my early days in elementary school,” he notes. “I was fortunate to have some excellent teachers during that period, and each one, in his or her own way, made me realize the importance of teaching.”

In high school, Lathey began coaching fellow students in math, explaining concepts they didn’t understand. “I felt a sense of pride and fulfillment when the one I was helping really ‘saw the light,’” he recalls. “I still get the same excitement today, when one of my student’s eyes brighten with understanding.”

Lathey may be facing an entire classroom of bright eyes today, once students realize their teacher ranks among the state’s best. Lathey is one of only 10 West Virginia 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 West Virginia Governor Bob Wise; Secretary of Education and Arts Kay Goodwin; Deputy State Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Paine; and WVEA President Tom Lange, at a presentation ceremony at the state capitol.

“This year’s ‘class’ of recipients is proof that West Virginia is blessed with many excellent teachers,” says Leer. “We truly believe excellent teachers are the cornerstone of our society and economic vitality. These recipients have experience, expertise and a passion for learning, and they pass it on to their students every day.”

“Ron is the definition of the word ‘teacher,’” notes Lathey’s Principal, J. Larry Barton. “He believes students are his product, and he must prepare them for lifelong learning and the role of parents and responsible citizens,” he adds. “He is willing to make whatever changes are necessary, spend whatever time is necessary, and do whatever is necessary, to prepare his students for the real world.”

Lathey teaches geometry, trigonometry and pre-calculus to students in grades 8-12, at Williamstown High School. “The most important thing I can do for my students is to help them reach their potential, not only in math class, but also in life,” he says. “Many of the students I get have a very negative attitude about mathematics, due to past failures, a lack of confidence, apathy or anxiety.

“A student must feel confident in his abilities, if he is to be motivated to try new things,” Lathey adds. “To accomplish this, I try to provide a pleasant, safe environment, where a student is free to make a mistake, learn from the mistake and develop a sense of pride and accomplishment when the answer is discovered.”

Lathey earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Fairmont State College, and he has attended many continuing education seminars during his 30-year career. He further serves his community through involvement in church, sports and other education-related activities.

In addition to recognition, recipients receive a $2,500 unrestricted cash prize, a distinctive glass trophy and a framed certificate. The West Virginia Foundation for the Improvement of Education is making a $1,000 award to each recipient’s school for use with at-risk students. The Arch Coal teacher recognition program features public nomination and peer selection.

Arch Coal is supported by the West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Education Association and Speedway in program promotion. Arch Coal’s Teacher Achievement Awards is one of the longest running, privately sponsored teacher recognition programs 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.