Stiles Wins Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (March 5, 2006) – More than a decade ago, Michael W. Stiles learned he had cancer. Suddenly, he felt the choices he made throughout his life toward becoming a teacher were justified. “Because I was a teacher, I had health benefits to cover the cost of the cure,” Stiles notes. “Because I was a teacher, I was able to still work, while I endured the chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

“Because I was a teacher, I had students who needed me to be there for them and would not allow me to give in to despair, self-pity or self-doubt,” he adds. “The show had to go on, and I had to get out of bed every morning to make sure my students succeeded.”

The show did go on, and today Stiles took center-stage. He was 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.

“I noticed in Michael Stiles’ application that he believes teachers need the ability to open the mental locks that a student might have,” says Leer. “It is evident that our judges felt he has the right combination to do just that. He is obviously a superior classroom teacher.”

Stiles is a theatre instructor at Musselman High School, Martinsburg, W.Va. “Each student brings something different to the table, and I accept them at their level,” he notes. “Then, I attempt to fit the jobs of the class and production to the students. Without making it too easy on them, I set my students up for success. After every success, I raise the bar and challenge each student in his or her own way.

“This pattern of success leads the students to overcome their weaknesses,” he adds. “In teaching, I’ve discovered once students start to believe they can succeed, they do. In a sense, I make them believe through make-believe.

“As Shakespeare said, ‘All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts …,’” adds Stiles. “My part is teaching.”

Stiles earned a bachelor’s degree and completed oral communications specialization coursework at Fairmont State University. His master’s degree is from Roosevelt University, Chicago. He is the 2005 West Virginia Threatre Teacher of the Year and was named “A Caring Educator” by the Berkeley County Board of Education. He is host of the 2007 West Virginia Threatre Conference and was elected West Virginia State Thespian Director, beginning August 2007. Stiles and his students have participated in festivals and conferences throughout West Virginia and the world, allowing them to share their art and to view threatre on a professional level. As a member of the Blue and Gray Barbershop Chorus of Inwood, W.Va., Stiles performed at the White House this past Christmas. A great believer in “giving back,” he has supported community-enhancement activities at many levels throughout his life.

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.

Arch Coal, Inc. is the nation’s second largest coal producer. The company’s core business is providing U.S. power generators with clean-burning, low-sulfur coal for electric generation. Through its national network of mines, Arch supplies the fuel for approximately 6 percent of the electricity generated in the United States. 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: