Barkan Earns Arch Coal Teacher
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (May 3, 2006) – Penny Barkan believes all students have the ability to learn and that learning is a lifelong journey. “It is my responsibility to help students become successful learners,” she notes.
“In my classroom, each student has the right to an opinion, and we practice tolerance for the opinions of others,” Barkan adds. “I do not feel that students should be told what to think. Instead, I ask them to keep an open mind as we pursue our studies, so that they may be exposed to new and different ways of looking at the world.”
Today Barkan had an opportunity to view the world through the eyes of one of Wyoming’s top teachers. She is among 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.
“I am impressed by Penny Barkan’s description of the teaching profession,” says Leer. “She told us that ‘teaching is one of the most vital professions if our way of life and standard of living is to be maintained’ and that education is the great equalizer and how proud she is to be a teacher. There is no doubt with that outlook, why Barkan was selected as one of our award recipients.”
Barkan teaches science and reading to seventh- and eighth-grade students at Big Horn Middle School in Big Horn. “Penny has established herself as one of the lead teachers in our middle school,” notes George Mirich, school principal. “She leads by example and is always willing to help other teachers or me whenever needed.
“Penny’s positive influence on the students that have passed through our school is reflected by the number that periodically return and ask questions about her and stop to visit with her,” he adds. “She is one of the hardest working teachers I have ever worked with. The high expectations she sets for the students pushes them to achieve more than they would normally expect from themselves.”
Barkan earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Wyoming, and a master’s degree at Regis University in Denver. She currently is taking classes in meteorology, sponsored by the American Meteorological Society and the National Science Foundation, with the University of New York at Brockport. Barkan organized and participates in a book study with other teachers aimed at building a community of readers. She developed a curriculum for a college class she teaches to prospective elementary teachers and was selected by NASA to attend training sessions at Johnson Space Center in Houston. Yet Barkan’s most rewarding achievements involve her students, including one who was once told he wasn’t college material. “I told him to believe in himself and his abilities,” she says. “He is now a college professor.” Barkan further supports her community through participation in church and extracurricular school-related activities.
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.