DeBiase Wins Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (March 5, 2006) – Do you know why spiders don’t stick to their own webs? Denise M. DeBiase’s kindergarten students do. “Young children are like sponges, ‘soaking up’ information presented,” she notes. “It is quite gratifying to see their faces light up when they explore new experiences and learn new things.”

It would be exciting to see those faces when DeBiase shares her own new experience. She became one of only 12 teachers statewide to receive a 2007 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Steven F. Leer, Arch Coal chairman 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; Arch Coal President and Chief Operating Officer John Eaves; and West Virginia Education Association President Charles Delauder.

“Wouldn’t learning be fun in Ms. DeBiase’s class?” asks Leer. “Imagine working in small teams at the elementary level, learning more about her ‘fact of the day,’ and then taking one of her special ‘lunchbox’ stories home to share with your family. She is definitely a very special teacher.”

DeBiase teaches at Mylan Park Elementary, Morgantown, W.Va. “I believe all students can and will learn, but not always in the same way or at the same rate,” she notes. “Many and varied teaching methods and styles must be employed to meet the needs of all students in a classroom.

“Teaching today is very different from how it was when I started,” adds the 34-year teaching veteran, who sometimes shares her experiences with student teachers. “I always tell them if they truly love children and want to make a difference in their lives for the good, be a teacher. They can be the one stable influence that can guide a child down the path of lifelong learning.”

DeBiase earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees +15 hours at West Virginia University. She has continued her development over the past three decades through participation in numerous and varied in-services, conferences and workshops. “One is never too old to learn new things and new ways to make teaching exciting for both me and my students,” she notes. At school, DeBiase has participated in education-based forums, committees and councils. She has helped raise funds for the Leukemia Society, March of Dimes and American Heart Association. DeBiase also has served in the Neighborhood Watch Group, and she is an active member of her church choir.

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.

The teacher recognition awards are underwritten by the Arch Coal Foundation and supported in program-promotion by the West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Education Association and the West Virginia Library Commission. The Arch Coal 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.