Harper Wins Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (March 5, 2006) – Education has played an important role in Roy P. Harper’s family for generations. His mother, grandparents and great-grandfather were teachers, as well as two uncles, one aunt and eight cousins. Yet it was a negative experience in high school that perhaps most influenced the kind of teacher Harper himself would become.

“To this day, I still can remember sitting in a particular class, thinking, ‘What a waste of time,’” he recalls. “All we did was sit in class and goof off. I often thought of all the neat activities we could be doing and decided then that if I ever became a teacher I would make sure my classes were interesting, challenging and fun.”

Today Harper received proof he’d kept that promise. He 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.

“Roy Harper and his students have grown a six-acre corn maze each of the past three years,” says Leer. “That is certainly hands-on experience, but that is not all that is done. Local elementary students explore the maze, guided by his students, and then the public enjoys the maze with a Halloween Corn Maze night. He involves not just his students, but the entire community in his agriscience endeavors”

Harper teaches agriscience technology courses at Moorefield Middle School, Moorefield, W.Va. “Educators need to meet the needs of individual students,” he notes. “We need to inspire, challenge, guide and help each child with love and understanding. Daily, I try to foster the love of learning, a feeling of worth, and provide opportunities for success and growth,” he adds. “The student will gain knowledge, skill, independence, self-confidence and satisfaction in learning through this approach.”

“Mr. Harper is truly the most dedicated teacher I had throughout my lifetime,” notes Eva K. Leatherman, a former student who now attends college. “He gives every student ample attention and strives to help them thoroughly understand the class material,” she adds. “Thanks to Mr. Harper, I was able to participate in numerous leadership events hosted by the FFA organization. Through these events, I gained invaluable leadership, public speaking skills and a much higher level of self-confidence. He makes all his students feel important and encourages them to pursue their goals.”

Harper earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees +45 hours at West Virginia University. By attending workshops in applied technologies, he helps ensure students learn from the most current educational materials. Harper received a state grant used by the school to implement the first agriscience technology lab in West Virginia. (Other grants have been used to replace or repair parts of the county fairground.) He encourages students to join the Moorefield Middle FFA Chapter, and many have won state and national awards over the past several years. Harper is the 2006 Moorefield Middle School Teacher of the Year, 2006 Teacher of the Year for Hardy County Schools, and a finalist for 2007 West Virginia Teacher of the Year. His professional affiliations include the National Young Farmer Educational Association (NYFEA) and several civic organizations. Harper and his students annually perform a number of community service projects.

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: