Chapmanville’s Katherine Manley Earns Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

March 15, 2005 - After hearing the story of Katherine Manley’s early years, some might want to count their blessings. It’s a wonder she survived at all, let alone excel at one of the world’s most important professions.

“When I was 6, my peg-legged father sold our two-room shack in Kanawha County for 30 cans of evaporated milk and moved the family to Logan County, where we continued to struggle with poverty long after I graduated,” Manley relates. “I stood on street corners, begging with my father, until I was 14. When we weren’t street begging, we carried shopping bags door-to-door, asking for food and clothes.”

Manley spent summers gathering scrap iron, scavenging through dumps and picking berries to help feed the family. “When my mother could stand it no longer, she ran away, leaving me to care for my crippled father and younger brother and sister,” she says. “During those challenging years, a few teachers took time to encourage me, praise my classroom accomplishments and give me basic needs. Because of those teachers, I realized my dream. Now I want to pay it forward.”

Most would agree that debt’s long been paid. In fact, you might say Manley just received a well-deserved refund. Today she was among only 10 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.

“Katherine Manley 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.”

“Mrs. Manley is the kind of teacher that everyone hopes they’ll get at least once in their lifetime,” notes Faye Bruun, a ninth-grade student at Chapmanville Middle School, where Manley teaches language arts to eighth-graders. “I knew her before I met her, because students she’d had in the past commented about her and the way she taught. I soon came to realize what they meant.”

Manley believes the most important thing she does for students is simply to “be there.” “No matter what their home environment or instructional level, I take them as far as they can go,” she says. “I strive to reach all my children by designing and implementing instructional strategies that reach them socially, emotionally and intellectually. I take time to talk to them about their interests – movies, books, music, TV shows. They know I truly care about their whole being, not just the academics.”

Manley earned a bachelor’s degree at Marshall University, Huntington, and a master’s degree at Charleston’s West Virginia Graduate College. She continues her education through a variety of educational workshops and institutes. She serves on numerous committees aimed at enhancing education throughout her district, region and state. Manley has twice received the Arch Golden Apple Award. She was a finalist for the 1999 West Virginia Teacher of the Year and the 1999 Wal Mart Teacher of the Year. Manley further serves her community through a range of civic-, church- and education-related 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.