Pat Dawson Named Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award Recipient

CHARLESTON, W.VA. (March 1, 2006) – Why does Pat Dawson find teaching a satisfying career? “Not a day goes by in the classroom without that ‘ah hah!’ moment, the instant when a student realizes he or she understands a new idea or concept,” says the 24-year teaching veteran. “These moments are thrilling, and they are what drive me to do my best to deliver the curriculum in a carefully constructed package of experiences. I love learning. I have my own ‘ah hah!’ moments in the classroom,” she adds. “There are always new things to discover as I research topics to present to the students.”

Dawson’s latest discovery may be that she ranks among the state’s top teachers. Today 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.

“While Pat Dawson speaks about carefully constructed packages of experiences,” says Leer, “I am impressed that she is also willing to adopt new methods and thinking, to be a risk-taker, and push her own personal comfort zone if it enhances the learning process for her students.”

Dawson teaches fourth-grade students at Conner Street Elementary in Hurricane. “Students who are lucky enough to be placed with Mrs. Dawson for their fourth-grade year are welcomed into a classroom that is structured, caring and supportive, with high expectations,” notes Jerry L. Hurley, the school’s principal. “Parents quickly realize that their child as an individual will have a wonderful year in a nurturing and demanding educational atmosphere.

“Mrs. Dawson is always ready and willing to utilize the newest research-based strategies to ensure that students are afforded the best educational opportunities possible,” he adds. “She also gives freely of her time and personal resources to make her classroom a child-centered learning environment that is enriched beyond what the school system expects or provides. All students are included, and a sense of self-worth and positive self-image is encouraged, supported and nurtured.”

Dawson earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Marshall University. She serves as scorer for the Department of Education’s West Virginia Writing Assessment and has attended several professional development sessions on teaching the writing process. Dawson participated in a Japan Teacher’s Institute in 2003, in which she received a “crash course” in Japanese culture. She has twice hosted Japanese teaching interns, during which time students received language and culture lessons from native Japanese speakers. Dawson has participated in English as a Second Language training and the Teacher’s Institute at Colonial Williamsburg. She also sings in her church choir and with the West Virginia Symphony Chorus. She is a member of the board of directors for Putnam County’s Museum in the Community. Dawson and her neighbors adopted the country road on which they live, clearing the four-mile road free of litter several times a year.

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.

Information about each of the 12 recipients is posted on the Arch Coal Web site: