Paula A. Mitchell Wins Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award 

March 15, 2005 - Paula A. Mitchell believes there may be no more important time to be a teacher and teach well than today. “Being a teacher is a rewarding career that enriches my own passion for learning, as I take a role of responsibility in the lives of young people,” she says. “I would not trade it for the world.”

Her passion shows. Today Mitchell was among 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.

“Paula Mitchell 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.”

Mitchell teaches fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade students at Brandywine Elementary, Brandywine, W.Va. “My teaching philosophy is to keep things simple, be caring and fair, and give students a foundation for a rapidly changing world,” she says. “Children should be thinking, and this needs to be encouraged. After all, children are our future, and how we treat and educate them will affect our future. I consider the best learning environment to be one in which children are actively involved.”

Mitchell earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at James Madison University, Harrisburg, Va. Her involvement with the West Virginia Writing Assessment program led Mitchell to begin presenting writing workshops across the state. She has served on the Writing Assessment Redesign, Teacher Mentoring, Student Teacher Training, Job Shadowing, Crisis Team, Career Day and other committees. Mitchell actively supports her community through various initiatives and includes her students in such activities as well. 

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.