Education

Zahn Named Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award Recipient

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (May 1, 2007) – At age 17, Karen Lynn Zahn knew she’d become either an English or art teacher. “Ironically, I became both,” she says. “I believed people could benefit from confidence gained through reading, writing, speaking and listening; that the arts enhance life; and that an education is an essential human right.

“I love going to work each day and fostering creative products and potentials that each child never realized he or she held within,” Zahn adds. “When students understand what a story or text has to do with them and their own lives in rural Wyoming, then kids want to read.”

In that case, Zahn’s students will certainly want to read a new plaque going up in their classroom. It identifies Zahn as one of the state’s finest teachers. 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.

“Although some decisions are certainly non-negotiable, Karen has never been a believer in top-down classroom management,” notes Leer. “She gives her students an opportunity to make both academic and social choices, preparing them for success in school and for their lives as adults.”

Zahn teaches English, language arts and explore courses at Farson-Eden Middle School, Farson, Wyo. “I am an advocate for differentiated instruction based on learning modalities, because humans are fundamentally different by gender and design. Consequently, we learn in alternate ways,” she notes.

“Whether I am teaching English, Photo or Publications, my main focus is to establish relevance and build character,” Zahn adds. “Without purpose, kids don’t connect.”

Zahn earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Wyoming. She is certified in Secondary English 7-12 and holds Photography, At-Risk Alternative and Middle School endorsements. After taking over her school’s journalism program, Zahn built a staff of 33 who went on to win three consecutive All-State Yearbook Championships through the Wyoming High School Student press Association. She used an Arts and Technology grant from the Wyoming Arts Council to launch an after-school literary arts magazine produced by and for students that won All-State honors as well. Zahn is a recipient of the Rookie Journalism Teacher of the Year Award. She currently is enrolled in 12 graduate credits focused on brain-based strategies for all students and is pursuing National Teaching Board Certification. She further supports her community through involvement in numerous service and additional education-related projects.

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.