Eckardt Named Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award Recipient

GILLETTE, Wyo. (May 6, 2008) – “We touch the future every day,” says Ann Eckardt, who teaches English and theater at Cody High School.

“The life of a teacher is incredibly rewarding, enormously influential, and always challenging,” says Eckardt, who has been a teacher for 14 years.

Today, Eckardt received another reward for her teaching. She was one of only 10 Wyoming teachers to receive a 2008 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. The awards were made at a ceremony at Campbell County High School, where Arch Coal Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steven F. Leer, Governor Dave Freudenthal, Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jim McBride, and Wyoming Education Association President Kathryn Valido honored the recipients.

“Ann Eckardt uses her understanding of brain-based learning in her classroom, while integrating the value or individuality of each student,” says Leer.

Eckardt bases her teaching on the concept of brain-based learning, having read about the subject and attended conferences and workshops. She has integrated what she has learned into her teaching in the classroom. As a result, she employs a number of practices that keep her students’ brains active throughout a class period.

“Because our brains slow down after 17 minutes, the students and I are up and moving about every 20 minutes,” she explains. “Activities may include vocabulary charades, forming partners by finding someone with the same colored socks, or a three-minute round-dance. This forces the two sides of the brain to communicate, which leads to better learning.

“The strength that affects my teaching most is my ability to establish a relationship with any student,” says Eckardt. “I am an attentive listener and truly interested in my students’ lives outside the classroom, and they know I accept them just the way they are.”

“Whether Ann is working with an advanced, high achiever or a troubled, low achiever, she is as selfless a person as there is,” says colleague Vincent Cappiello.

Eckardt has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Gonzaga University, Spokane, Wash., a Master of Arts degree from Lesley College, Cambridge, Mass., and earned National Board Certification. She is a Certified Support Person with the National Board Certification program, mentoring candidates.

She also is active in her community, both with her church and as a member of Families on the Frontlines, a support group for the military serving in Iraq or Afghanistan and their families in Wyoming. She is the mother of a twice-deployed Marine. At school, she is engaged in Reading Excellence programs that involve both students and their parents, Link Crew, a program that eases the transition into high school of freshmen. She also mentors new teachers.

The award is underwritten by the Arch Coal Foundation. In addition to recognition, award recipients receive a personal, $2,500 unrestricted cash prize, a distinctive trophy and a classroom plaque. Nominations of the teachers are made by the public, and selection is made by a blue-ribbon panel of the teachers’ peers, all former recipients of the Arch Coal award.

This is the eighth 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 its Thunder Basin Coal Company subsidiary employs more than 1,200 people in Wyoming. Thunder Basin’s Black Thunder and Coal Creek mines sell more than 90 million tons of cleaner-burning, low-sulfur coal on an annual basis. Arch Coal is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACI) and maintains its corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.