Adema Wins Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (May 1, 2007) – Deborah F. Adema wishes she could say her reasons for choosing education as a lifelong profession were noble. “Unfortunately, they were not,” she notes. “When I made the decision to become a teacher over 30 years ago, I was busy competing in rodeos, for both college and amateur circuits. Although anyone who has entered the education field knows the ‘summers off’ theory is a myth, as a young college student, a teaching career appeared to be the ticket I needed. Having summers off would provide me with time to pursue my rodeo dreams,” Adema adds.

“My reasons for choosing education were not noble, but my reasons for staying in the field were,” she adds. “I credit my change in motivation to my mother and the fact that I received the gift of a love of learning from her many years ago. She made me believe that obtaining an education was a privilege to be treasured. My belief that education is important for a better future is the most important thing that I can pass on to my students today.”

No matter how she came to the profession, Adema ranks among its best. Today she became one of only 10 teachers statewide to earn an Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Steven F. Leer, Arch Coal chairman and chief executive officer, made the announcement during a presentation ceremony at Afflerbach Elementary School in Cheyenne. He was accompanied by Governor Dave Freudenthal, First Lady Nancy Freudenthal, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jim McBride, and Wyoming Education Association President Kathryn Valido.

“Deborah is known for running her classroom in a ‘businesslike’ manner; which I completely respect,” says Leer. “Yet she doesn’t forget the importance of having ‘fun’ with her students and of establishing a sense of community. She cares about each of them personally and gives value to their similarities and differences.”

Adema teaches business technology courses at Hulett High School, and it’s no wonder her classes are businesslike. Adema’s students run an actual, school-based business. “A normal day will find my students making decisions from how much money they should spend on advertising to what they should charge for a customer’s special request,” she notes. “They maintain a Web site, place orders, pay bills, field customers’ phone calls and complete payroll records.

“Students in this program continue to be highly motivated to do their best work,” Adema adds. “The business provides authentic learning opportunities, with the net profits dedicated to scholarship opportunities for the students involved.”

Adema earned a bachelor’s degree at Dickinson State University, Dickinson, N.D.; and bachelor and master’s degrees at Black Hills State University, Spearfish, S.D. In 2006, she was one of two recipients of the Arena of Academic Excellence Award by Dickinson State. Adema received another special honor, Educator of Distinction, through Julie, a former student who became editor of her college paper and now writes for major magazines. That award, in part, reads: For your continuous support and assistance in helping me reach my goals … and for your ability to teach in an enjoyable way that allows freedom and the chance for me to exercise my creative energy …. “It is in playing a small part in the lives of students like Julie that makes teaching so important to me,” says Adema, who further supports her community through volunteer initiatives benefiting 4-H, Future Farmers of America and firefighters, to name a few.

The award is underwritten by the Arch Coal Foundation. In addition to recognition, award recipients receive a $2,500, unrestricted cash prize, a distinctive trophy and a classroom plaque.

This is the seventh year the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards have been made in Wyoming. The program is supported by the Department of Education, the Wyoming Education Association, Taco John’s, Loaf ‘n Jug, and the Wyoming library community.

Arch Coal is one of the nation’s largest coal producers and employs more than 1,200 people in Wyoming. Arch Coal’s Black Thunder mine sells more than 90 million tons of clean-burning, low-sulfur coal on an annual basis. Located in Campbell County, Black Thunder mine is one of the largest and most efficient coal mines in the world. Arch Coal is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACI) and maintains its corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.