Gunderson Named Arch Coal Teacher Award Recipient

May 3, 2005 – What do you do when you wake up one morning, realize you’re 40 years old – and still not a teacher? “Why, you enroll in school, of course,” says Jeannie Hood Gunderson. “Teaching was my first career choice. But, as circumstances and opportunities would have it, I did not pursue that choice until I was 40. While raising our children, I worked at various occupations, including bookkeeping, marketing, daycare provider and ‘little folks’ aerobics instructor. Finally, I went after my goal, graduated with honors and obtained an elementary school teaching position.”

Gunderson is proof that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams. With just eight years of teaching experience, today she was among only 10 teachers statewide 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 this afternoon at Buffalo Ridge Elementary School. Leer was accompanied by Governor Dave Freudenthal, Wyoming First Lady Nancy Freudenthal, Wyoming Department of Education Chief of Staff Lisa Skiles Parady, and Wyoming Education Association Executive Director Jean Hayek.

“Jeannie Gunderson is a prime example both of life-long learning and the successful pursuit of personal goals,” said Leer. “Her students are fortunate that she decided to make teaching her life’s career goal. I’m hopeful that she instills in her students the same love of learning and perseverance.” 

Gunderson teaches fourth-grade students at Manor Heights School, Casper, Wyo. “Were he alive today to give his view of teaching, Charles Dickens might say, ‘It is the best of times, it is the worst of times,’” notes Gunderson. “I tend to agree. In order to give my best to my students, I encounter a range of emotions and experiences with them.

“Sometimes it will turn out to be the best of times and sometimes, well, not the best. But I have to keep trying to give every child – regardless of learning style or intelligence – the best I have to offer. To give the best, I constantly need to research, take classes and stretch myself.”

Gunderson earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Wyoming, Casper; a master’s degree through Lesley University, Cambridge, Mass.; and more than 30 hours of continuing education, including Middle Level Endorsement and Highly Qualified status in language arts and social studies. An advocate of lifelong learning, Gunderson takes courses aimed at enhancing her students’ learning, such as TIPS (Technology Integration to meet Performance Standards) and others. Gryphon Publishing has featured some of Gunderson’s early childhood activities and poetry in its encyclopedias for young children. She further supports her community through church, civic and additional education-related activities.

In addition to recognition, teacher award recipients collect a $2,500 unrestricted, personal cash award, a distinctive trophy and a 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 Loaf ‘n Jug in program promotion. This is the fifth year Arch Coal has made the awards in Wyoming.

Arch Coal is the nation’s second largest coal producer and employs approximately 900 people in Wyoming. Arch Coal’s Black Thunder mine sells more than 90 million tons of clean-burning, low-sulfur coal on an annual basis. Located in Campbell County, Black Thunder mine is one of the largest and most efficient coal mines in the world. Arch Coal is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACI) and maintains its corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.