Foster Named Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award Recipient

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (May 1, 2007) – “Teaching is my passion and has become the purpose that drives me to be a lifelong learner, giving my best to students every day,” says Maria Rose Foster, who has been teaching for 19 years.

“I came to this realization as a child, when I helped care for my developmentally delayed younger sister,” she notes. “My experiences with my sister helped me discern my calling. I thought I was teaching her, when in reality, she helped me understand what it meant to be a teacher – and the patience and commitment it requires.”

Those childhood lessons have stood the test of time, helping to rank Foster at the top of her profession. 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.

“Maria nurtures a love of education in her students from the day they enter her classroom, helping them to become lifelong learners,” notes Leer. “By cultivating a sense of community and a positive, caring and cooperative learning environment, she prepares them for success in school and their future careers.”

Foster teaches first-grade students at Afflerbach Elementary, Cheyenne. “The magic of reading is my primary focus of instruction,” she notes. “I create a literacy-rich environment, where students are immersed in reading and writing from the moment they walk in the door until they leave at the end of the day.

“I expect the best from my students and believe in each and every one of them,” she adds. “The magic happens when they are empowered to be critical thinkers and risk-takers who believe in themselves.”

“I have known Mrs. Foster for five years and have treasured every moment of that time,” notes Lynn Frank, parent and Family Literacy Partner. “She makes everyone feel welcome, students and parents alike. … She encourages students to do their best and brings out the best in them. Mrs. Foster seems to have an endless amount of patience and truly cares about each and every student.”

Foster earned an associate’s degree at Northwest Community College, Powell; a bachelor’s degree at the University of Wyoming; and a master’s degree at Grand Canyon University, Phoenix. She helps parents learn at-home literacy activities and participates on committees aimed at enhancing curriculum. She is a certified Collaborative Literacy Intervention Project (CLIP) reading teacher and continues her development through workshops, conferences and study groups. Foster further serves her community through involvement in civic, church and other education-related activities.

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.