Keyser’s Zimmerman wins Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

March 15, 2005 - Natalie Zimmerman credits her decision to become a teacher to her parents, grandparents – and a coal company in Frostburg, Md. “My grandfather was one of the coal miners who contributed money from his wages to help build a college facility, while the mining company worked to secure the land on which to build it,” she explains. “My parents and their siblings were fortunate to attend the State Normal School to prepare to become teachers. Years later, I followed in their footsteps to attend what is now called Frostburg State University. I learned to love the process of learning, which is what I hope to pass along to my students.”

Zimmerman’s hopes are being realized, or she wouldn’t be where she is today –one of only 12 teachers statewide to receive 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.

“Natalie Zimmerman 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.”

Zimmerman teaches mathematics and computer science at Keyser High School, Keyser, W.Va. “I was a student in Mrs. Zimmerman’s trigonometry and computer programming I and II classes during the past two years,” notes Jason Bell. “While in those classes, we participated in many projects which allowed my classmates and me to win the 2003 Gaston Caperton Educational Technology Award. Mrs. Zimmerman encouraged us to learn to use the latest technology devices, such as graphing calculators, palm computers, laptops, global positioning systems, geographic positioning systems, lasers and robotics. She also encouraged us to share what we were learning with other people,” he adds. “As part of Mrs. Zimmerman’s class, we not only learned about technology, but had the opportunity to apply what we learned, whether it was for competition or in presentations we did for the community and other schools.”

“I want them [students] to see the math they are learning as a useful tool in developing problem-solving strategies and for explaining the world around them,” notes Zimmerman. “I believe students who learn in a technology-rich, integrated learning environment today will be prepared to be productive members of society and the workplace of the future.”

Zimmerman earned her bachelor’s degree at Frostburg State University and a master’s degree at West Virginia University, Morgantown. She is a Toyota International Teacher Program and Oracle Internet Academy participant. Zimmerman has received numerous grants used to keep Keyser on the cutting edge of technology and has offered training sessions on a wide range of computer software programs. She also is working to develop a technology-related professional learning community at her school. Zimmerman is actively involved in her community as well, supporting it through a range of volunteer initiatives.

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.