Janet Slates Bowland Wins Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

March 15, 2005 - Janet Slates Bowland loves children. That’s why she has dedicated her life to becoming the best teacher she can be. 

“Conducting 30 years of kindergarten classes has given me the pleasure of encouraging children’s willingness to try new tasks, developing their imaginations as I value each child’s uniqueness,” she notes. “Kindergarten is a joyful celebration of first steps – learning to read, writing your first story, becoming someone’s ‘best friend.’ As a kindergarten teacher, I have been given the gift of celebrating each day, as I watch my dear young children learn.”

Bowland found yet another reason to celebrate today. She is one of only 12 teachers throughout the state to earn a 2005 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Steven F. Leer, Arch Coal president and chief executive officer, made the announcement during a presentation ceremony at the state capitol. He was accompanied by West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin; Secretary of Education and Arts Kay Goodwin; State Schools Superintendent David Stewart; and West Virginia Education Association President Tom Lange.

“Janet Bowland is very deserving of this honor,” says Leer. “There are so many excellent teachers in the state. She is obviously among the ‘best of the best.’ Arch Coal believes classroom teachers, who nurture the love of lifelong education in our children, deserve the respect and admiration of all West Virginia citizens.”

Bowland teaches kindergarten students at Scarbro Elementary, Scarbro, W.Va. “I create a positive mental environment in my classroom by providing students the freedom to study and explore in an atmosphere where mistakes are acceptable and learning means taking risks,” she says. “I sprinkle it with a reasonable amount of noise, mess, freedom and the gift of time for ‘choice activities.’ Whether it’s creating a classroom jungle, a kinder farm or an igloo made of 250 milk jugs, I’ve designed a classroom environment that encourages children to learn, create and grow.”

Bowland earned a bachelor’s degree at West Virginia Wesleyan College, Buckhannon, and a master’s degree at West Virginia University, at Morgantown. She is a National Board Certified Teacher-Early Childhood Generalist and serves as a mentor to dozens of National Board candidates. Bowland has served as literacy coach at Scarbro Elementary for the past three years, having received rigorous training through the Early Literacy Learning Initiative. She also serves on many Fayette County curriculum committees. As Fayette County Teacher of the Year for 2003-2004, Bowland attended the International Reading Association Convention and the National Reading First Conference. She has been awarded $780,000 in grants for her district, school and classroom, used to fund a number of programs, books and supplies to meet students’ needs. Bowland further serves her community through a variety of volunteer activities.

In addition to recognition, award recipients receive a $2,500 unrestricted cash prize, a distinctive trophy and a classroom plaque. The West Virginia Foundation for the Improvement of Education makes 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. Nominations of the teachers are made by the public and selection is made by a blue-ribbon panel of the teachers’ peers – previous recipients of the award.

Arch Coal is the nation’s second largest coal producer. Nearly 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, Mo.