Chapmanville’s Henson Named Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award Recipient

CHARLESTON, W.VA. (March 1, 2006) – Although Barbara Henson officially became a teacher at age 8, she didn’t earn her degree until 24 years later. “My father was killed in an accident, which left mom and me to take care of five children,” she notes. “I taught them to tie their shoes, keep themselves clean, get along with each other, help with household chores, and of course, I helped with lots of homework,” she adds.

Henson eventually married and had children of her own. Continuing her education was the furthest thing from Henson’s mind, until the day her doctor brought it up. “He questioned me about my future and told me I was too smart to just live my life watching soap operas and getting fat lying on the sofa,” she recalls. “With my children now being of school age, he suggested I go back to school and do something meaningful with my life. I enrolled in college the very next semester. At age 32, I received my degree and became a teacher.”

That was 24 years ago, and Henson now ranks among the best in her profession. She was among only 12 teachers statewide to receive a 2006 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Robert W. Shanks, president of Arch Coal’s eastern operations, representing 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; First Lady Gayle Manchin; Secretary of Education and Arts Kay Goodwin; Deputy State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jack McClanahan; and West Virginia Education Association President Charles Delauder.

"Barbara Henson has dedicated her life to teaching," says Leer. "A physician suggested that she should do something meaningful, and like her students, Barbara listened. She is driven to be a contributor to her family and society. I'm proud that West Virginia has people like Barbara, who make the conscious decision to become teachers and to better entire communities."

Henson teaches mathematics to fifth-grade students at Chapmanville Middle School, Chapmanville. “My enthusiasm for learning and my positive mental attitude are the most important things I do for my students,” she notes. “They see that even if things go wrong you can learn from them and not be afraid to learn new things. They see that learning is what makes us grow into great people.

“I am motivated to teach because I have something to offer my students,” Henson adds. “I know I help to prepare them for the complicated and unknown future that lies ahead of them. At the end of each year, when I see just how far my students have come, I sit back, smile, and say to myself as I reflect on the year, ‘This is a good thing, and I surely chose the right profession!’”

Henson earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Marshall University and additional credentials at W.Va. State College. She continues her development through a range of training and learning opportunities. Henson is a member of her school’s Staff Development Council and the State Differentiated Instruction Cadre. She has served as a presenter on the advantages of differentiated instruction and as a member of the Curriculum Development and several textbook committees. Henson is a mentor for The Beginning Educator Internship Program and a coach for an Academic Challenge Team that won county, regional and national competitions over the past three years. She also coaches fifth- and sixth-grade Math Field Day teams. Henson further serves her community through involvement in church activities and civic organizations.

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 the West Virginia Library Commission 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 and mines clean-burning, low-sulfur coal exclusively. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACI) and maintains its corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.