Van Heule Named Arch Coal Teacher Award Recipient

May 3, 2005 – Jean Marie Van Heule began her career as an educator 22 years ago. A number of influences keep her motivated to teach – past teachers, colleagues, and most important – children. 

“I fall in love with each group of students I teach,” she notes. “For me that love renews my motivation and enthusiasm each year. I often tell my students that there is nothing they can do to make me stop loving them. The most important thing I do for my students is to get to know them. I try to meet them where they are, in their world.” 

Van Heule’s love for her students and for her profession shows. Today she became one of 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.

“When I heard that Jean Van Heule’s philosophy was ‘never give up’ and that she feels we must keep trying and believing in each child, I knew our judges had selected an outstanding teacher,” said Leer. “I’m proud of the dedication Jean and so many other teachers in Wyoming have for their profession and students.”

Van Heule teaches second-grade students at St. Margaret’s Catholic School, Riverton, Wyo. “I believe one of our tasks as educators is to prepare students for a world that may be very different from the one in which they now live,” she says. “I feel that the best way to accomplish this is to help them become divergent thinkers, problem-solvers and decision-makers. I encourage them to explore and find solutions to their own questions and problems, both academic and social.

“I continue to challenge myself to keep learning, to be flexible and to be open,” she adds. “The world is changing, and we must change, too.” 

Van Heule earned her bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Wyoming. She continues her education and development through participation in a number of training programs and classes, such as Teaching Thinking Strategies for Mastering Math, Bridges in Mathematics, and Brain-Based Learning. She was selected for inclusion in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers in 2002 and 2005, was nominated for the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award in 2003 and is an Arch Coal Golden Apple Award recipient. Van Heule further serves her community through involvement in church and 4H club activities. She plans to enter the University of Wyoming’s Speech and Language Pathology master’s degree program this fall.

In addition to recognition, teacher award recipients receive 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.