Mabry Named Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award Recipient

CHARLESTON, W.VA. (March 1, 2006) – The one-room, rural elementary school Rebecca L. Mabry attended now exists only in memory. “But the desire to teach that began in that simple building with bare wooden floors and a pot-bellied stove has continued throughout my life,” notes the 25-year teaching veteran. “When I have paused to reflect over past years of teaching or to re-evaluate my career choice, I inevitably reached the same conclusion,” she adds. “I want to be a teacher.”

Mabry obviously needs no affirmation of her career choice, but she certainly received it today. Mabry 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.

“Everyone understands that a ‘special education teacher’ must have extraordinary patience,” says Leer. “Rebecca Mabry exhibits much more – creativity, professional skills, differing strategies to adjust to different learning abilities – so that all her students succeed in life.”

Mabry teaches special education courses at Hannan Jr./Sr. High School in Ashton. “I can positively say I have never worked with a more professional educator,” notes Thomas R. Nunnery, who served as Mabry’s supervising principal for 12 years. “It seems that many individuals want to use the phrase, ‘the students come first,’ but Rebecca doesn’t just say it, she lives and teaches by that philosophy,” he adds.

“Mrs. Mabry was always at work early and most often was the last teacher to leave the building,” Nunnery says. She made accommodations with her schedule that frequently led to her not taking a lunch or having a planning period. When you walked into her classroom, she was always working with students and directing her aide in assisting students.
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“She was never too busy to volunteer for special projects at the school that benefited students,” says Nunnery. “Her lesson plans were impeccable and detailed for individual student needs. She did all this and still managed to keep a smile on her face at all times. She is the standard I use when defining the term educator.”

Mabry earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and additional special education certification at Marshall University. She has continued her development over the years through participation in a wide range of seminars, workshops, conferences and other training opportunities at the county, state and national levels. Mabry further serves her community through participation in a wide range of church activities and other education-related initiatives.

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: