Susan Bennett Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

February 25, 2004 — Susan Bennett’s parents always said she could excel at any profession. So Bennett chose a career that nearly embraces them all. "I am a queen, an artist, a nurse, a counselor, a mother, a poet, a friend, an instructor, a communicator and a demonstrator," Bennett says. "I tell stories, mend fences and build dreams. I am a teacher!"

She’s a winner, as well. Bennett was one of only 10 teachers in West Virginia to earn 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 state capitol.

"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."

Now a 20-year educator, Bennett teaches first-grade students at Scott Teays Elementary in Scott Depot, W.Va. "I am fortunate enough to experience many children, including mildly mentally impaired, autistic and behavior-disordered students," she says. "My philosophy includes making all children successful with as many innovative ideas as I can research, develop and implement. Every child can learn, and it is my job to find out how."

Bennett considers herself part of "The Greatest Show on Earth." "My classroom is like an exciting, three-ring circus, and I am the ringmaster, keeping the children on task and helping with all of their needs," she says. "As I enter the classroom each morning, I know it is time to ’let the show begin!’"

Bennett earned her bachelor’s degree +15 hours at Marshall University, Huntington, and continues her professional development through various training programs. She serves her community through a variety of initiatives and encourages her students to do the same. Her class has collected pennies for a Ronald McDonald House; gathered food, supplies, books, clothing and toys for another local, flood-damaged school; sang for area nursing home residents; and written letters to soldiers in Iraq. "Students need to learn that when they live in a community, they need to give back to that community," Bennett says.

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.