Graham Receives Prestigious Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

GILLETTE, Wyo. (May 6, 2008) – Clearmont Elementary teacher Annette Graham encourages her combined classroom of fifth and sixth graders to strive to “go beyond” their comfort level into the territory of real learning.

“A passive attitude toward learning is not valued in my classroom,” says Graham, who has taught the past five years at the school in Clearmont in Sheridan County.

Today, Graham’s students will not be passive when they learn she is one of only 10 Wyoming teachers to receive an 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.

“Annette Graham is dedicated to motivating each child in her class to learn,” says Leer. “She models hard work and a love of learning for her students.”

“I view my students as individuals who have distinct talents, challenges, learning styles and, most importantly, unique personalities to be respected and valued,” says Graham.

“I try to set an example for my students as a person who values curiosity, knowledge and achievement,” she says. “Though I value teamwork, I also teach my students that they must develop self reliance – which provides a basis for achievement, no matter how difficult their home situation may be. Knowing that I am playing a small, but crucial part [in the lives] of these young people is incredibly motivating.

“Student needs and individual learning styles are addressed first and foremost by getting to know my students as human beings,” says Graham. “They recognize that I respect and value their individual talents and personalities in the same way I respect the differences in my adult colleagues and friends.”

“She is willing to adapt her teaching methods to the learning style of each child,” says Kristine Shuman, parent of one of Graham’s students. “In a society that often values mass production, conformity and speed, Annette Graham recognizes the need to slow down and find the value of the individual.”

As an example of the activities within her classroom, Graham says she has introduced her students to what she describes as “a complex class economy which challenges students mathematically, complete with bankers, checkbooks, spreadsheets and opportunities to earn and spend dollars.”

Graham has two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one in liberal arts and the second in elementary education, both from Utah State University. Additionally, she has University of Wyoming graduate-level credits. She participates in a weekly “music jam” fundraiser that raises money for families in need, is a supporter of FINCA, an organization that provides micro-loans to women in developing countries, and is active in her school’s robotics club.

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.