Susan Ash Duernberger Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

March 15, 2005 - Susan Ash Duernberger tells students she wanted to become a teacher so she’d get the “big desk,” but it’s all in fun. “The truth is that, along with the example my parents set, I had wonderful teachers – teachers who wanted their students to take pride in their work and themselves,” she says. 

“I can still remember listening to West Virginia stories over the radio in elementary school, drawing a picture of the story I had just heard and being proud that I was a West Virginian,” Duernberger adds. “As a West Virginia Studies teacher, I work hard to instill West Virginia pride in my students, by encouraging them to take pride in what they do and who they are.”

Duernberger has one more reason to be proud of herself. Today she became one of 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.

“Susan Duernberger 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.”

Duernberger teaches eighth-grade students at DuPont Middle School, Belle, W.Va. “I believe students see in me someone who cares and encourages them to dream their dreams for the future,” she notes. “After having students go on to every possible career, including the NBA, NFL, Country Music Association, doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers and wonderful parents, I am the first to admit that I do not know which student will achieve his or her dream. My job is simply to help prepare them to take advantage of the opportunities that may come their way.”

Duernberger earned her bachelor’s degree at Morris Harvey College, a master’s degree at West Virginia University, Morgantown, and an additional 59 hours at West Virginia and Marshall universities. She continues her education through professional/staff development programs as well as numerous conferences, conventions and academies. Duernberger is a recipient of the Arch Coal Golden Apple Achiever Teacher Award, the Ashland Oil Golden Apple Achiever Teacher Award, and the RESA III Exemplary Teacher of the Year Award. She also supports her community through involvement in a range of church, health and other betterment 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.