Arch Coal Recognizes Jacque Renee Fernau for Making a Positive Impact on Students

May 3, 2004 — Twenty-five years ago, Jacque Renee Fernau would never have dreamed of becoming a teacher. "I disliked school. No, I hated school," she recalls. "I failed to see the relevancy of school in my life. School to me was a social and athletic opportunity, nothing more."

Then a teacher came along who made a monumental impact on Fernau’s life. "He not only helped me to realize the relevance that school had on my life, he helped me set goals for my future," she says. "It was at that point in my life that I knew I wanted to seek a profession where I could have the same sort of positive influence my teacher had on me."

Another teacher guided Fernau on her career path, but she excelled on her own. Today Fernau was one of only 10 Wyoming teachers to earn a 2004 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Steven F. Leer, Arch Coal president and chief executive officer, made the announcement, accompanied by Wyo. Governor Dave Freudenthal; Dr. Cheryl Schroeder, educational consultant representing Dr. Trent Blankenship, superintendent of public instruction; and Gary McDowell, president of the Wyoming Education Association, during a ceremony at Carey Junior High School in Cheyenne.

"These teachers challenge and inspire students to reach for their dreams," said Leer. "They are helping build a stronger Wyoming and a stronger America one student at a time. Arch Coal is proud to recognize some of the state’s most talented teachers and their tremendous contributions to our society."

Fernau teaches special education courses at Powell High School, Powell, Wyo. "I believe that giving all students the individualized support they need to achieve their goals is a crucial aspect toward reaching my goal - their opportunity to experience success," she notes. "I take my role as a special-educator extremely seriously. After graduation, many students are going to venture into the ’real world.’ If they are sufficiently able to apply knowledge from my class to directly help them with work or life, I believe I have reached my goal.

"Every child that enters my life is a gift to me," Fernau says. "They make me look at myself differently, which helps me to develop my teaching skills and ultimately become a better, more effective teacher."

Fernau earned her bachelor’s degree at Eastern Montana College, Billings, where she is in the process of completing graduate work for a master’s degree in special education. She is a member of the Council of Exceptional Children and continually updates her education and teaching strategies through involvement in conferences, workshops, and other professional development activities. Fernau further supports her community through involvement in the Special Olympics and AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed). 

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. 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 one of the nation’s largest coal producers and employs approximately 650 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.