Education

Brenda Kay Stephens Named Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award Recipient

February 25, 2004 — After 20 years in the teaching profession, Brenda Kay Stephens’ continuing motivation comes from a single source - the children. "Their beaming faces and excited voices are my reward," she says.

Sometimes Stephens’ impact on students is greater than she realizes. "One touching experience was a visit from a former student, who was very shy," she recalls. "She gave me a box of her grandmother’s handkerchiefs. On the card she wrote, ’You made me smile.’"

Today, Stephens has more reasons to smile. She is one of only 10 West Virginia teachers to receive a 2004 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; State Schools Superintendent Dr. David Stewart; and WVEA President Tom Lange, in a presentation ceremony at the capitol building.

"When I see the accomplishments of our honorees, I know the students of West Virginia are in good hands," says Leer. "Each day, these teachers challenge, inspire and help students develop a passion for life-long learning. Arch Coal is proud to recognize some of the state’s most talented teachers."

Stephens teaches kindergarten at Mineral Wells Elementary, Mineral Wells, W.Va. "The most important thing I do for my students is to treat each one as a special person with a special purpose," she says, "I see value in each child regardless of developmental level.

"The learning environment needs to be supportive, loving, nurturing and engaging, in order to encourage learning," she adds. "By establishing a caring and personal relationship with my students and connecting them to each other, I set the tone for a learning community in which all children can develop and learn."

Stephens received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Marshall University in Huntington. She has since earned an additional 69 hours and national board certification. Stephens continues her education through participation in a range of workshops and leadership positions in the West Virginia Association for Young Children, the National Kindergarten Conference, and Special K, an organization for kindergarten teachers, aimed at improving programs and practices for young children. She further serves her community through involvement in civic and community-betterment projects, some of which involve the participation of her students.

In addition to recognition, award recipients receive a $2,500 unrestricted cash prize, a distinctive trophy and a classroom plaque. The Arch Coal teacher recognition program features public nomination and peer selection. 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.

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 the longest running, privately sponsored teacher recognition program 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.