Education

Graves Named Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award Recipient

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (May 3, 2006) – Laurie Graves believes she was meant to be a teacher. “I first taught my dolls and neighborhood children when I was young, and then I volunteered at a local elementary school in high school. Finally, I enrolled in a degree for elementary education when I was college bound,” she recalls.

“I have never varied from my initial thoughts of teaching children. Watching a child light up with understanding, no matter what level they are on, makes every moment of struggle worthwhile,” she adds.

Today Graves learned just how much her efforts are appreciated. She became one of only 10 teachers statewide to earn a 2006 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Steven F. Leer, Arch Coal chairman and chief executive officer, made the announcement during a presentation ceremony this afternoon at Johnson Junior High School. He was accompanied by Gov. and First Lady Dave and Nancy Freudenthal; Mary Kay Hill, director of administration for the Department of Education; Wyoming Education Association Executive Director Jean Hayek; and Arch Coal President and Chief Operating Officer John Eaves.

“As a third grade teacher, Laurie Graves has succeeded in many ways,” says Leer. “I was impressed when a parent said she has the ability to communicate with her in a caring, but no nonsense fashion. Keeping parents fully informed about students, especially in formative, elementary school years, is very important. The fact that she motives her students to learn proves that Laurie is also an exemplary teacher.”

Graves teaches third-grade students at Big Horn Elementary, Big Horn, Wyo. “Laurie is a true professional, and I am amazed at how she can juggle all of her duties at school,” notes fellow teacher and parent Christy Wright. “She has served on several committees at the elementary and district levels, and her administrators seek her out to hold leadership positions in her building. She completes all that is asked of her in a timely fashion, but even more importantly, her work is well done.

“Speaking as a parent, Laurie is direct and honest in her relationships. She is compassionate toward children and always has their best interests in mind,” Wright adds. “My children grew by leaps and bounds in her classroom. She is creative and fun, and she understands children well enough to know she can deviate from her plans and reach out to students in a totally different manner. This truly is a characteristic of a master teacher.”

Graves earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Montana State University, Bozeman. She continues her development through college courses and conferences, and she serves as chairperson for her building’s Steering Committee for the School Improvement Process. Graves also has served on her school’s Interest-Based Negotiations Committee and is presently working toward National Teaching Certification. She further serves the community through involvement in the ABC parent group. She is a 4-H leader, a church elder and her neighborhood’s American Heart representative. Graves has given private riding lessons as a confidence-building activity and has enlisted student involvement in charity drives for national issues.

In addition to recognition, teacher achievement award recipients receive a $2,500 unrestricted, personal cash award, a distinctive trophy and a plaque. The Arch Coal teacher recognition program features public nomination and peer selection. Arch Coal is supported by the Wyoming Department of Education, the Wyoming Education Association, Taco John’s, Loaf ‘n Jug, and the Wyoming Library community in program promotion. This is the sixth year Arch Coal has made the awards in Wyoming.

Arch Coal is the nation’s second largest coal producer and employs approximately 900 people in Wyoming. Arch produces more than 90 million tons of clean-burning, low-sulfur coal annually at its Wyoming operations. The company’s Black Thunder operation in Campbell County is one of the nation’s largest and most efficient coal mines. Arch Coal is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACI) and maintains its corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.

Information about each of the recipients is posted on the Arch Coal Web site: www.archteacherawards.com.