Education

Arch Coal Names Stemple Teacher Achievement Award Recipient

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Feb. 27, 2008) – Growing up, Jill Simmons Stemple heard stories of how her mother was only permitted to attend school through eighth grade and how her father left school to join the Navy in World War II, to help his family. “The stories I heard helped me realize how fortunate I was,” she recalls. “I learned that attending school was not only important, but a privilege.

“At school, I saw and experienced things that were new and intriguing,” Stemple adds. “My teachers guided me, encouraged me and facilitated my learning. As I watched my teachers, I knew in my heart I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be one of them. In spite of the odds, being the eleventh child in a family with no college graduates and very little income, I dedicated myself to doing just that.”

Stemple’s dedication paid off. In fact, she ranks among West Virginia’s top teachers. Today she became one of only 12 teachers statewide to earn a 2008 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, West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Paine and West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) President Charles Delauder.

“Jill Stemple believes the most important thing she does for her pre-school students is to allow them to establish independence,” says Leer. “She carefully observes the students individually to determine how best to address their unique strengths and weaknesses. It’s impressive to think that over her 15-year career she’s gotten to know each and every one of her students on such a personal level.”

Stemple teaches pre-kindergarten students at Rock Cave Elementary, Rock Cave. “My career as a pre-school teacher has been rewarding; my students have taught me so much!” notes Stemple.

“I have learned to listen and observe more closely and to think longer and harder to discover solutions to problems. I also have learned that sharing your time is one of the most precious gifts you can give someone and, in the eyes of a young child, it is crucial not only to relationships, but to learning.”

Stemple earned a bachelor’s degree at West Virginia Wesleyan College, and a master’s degree at West Virginia University. She also has achieved National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification and completed 45 graduate hours dealing with curriculum and character education. Stemple’s children’s book, Stepping Today Into Pre-K, is due to be released nationally in late summer or early fall 2008. Her future plans include pursuing a doctorate in Early Childhood Education, presenting at a national Alpha Delta Kappa education conference and assisting in writing a book about character education and how to implement meaningful lessons during the early elementary years. Stemple further supports her community through various church, civic and extracurricular education-related activities.

In addition to recognition, award recipients receive a personal, $2,500 unrestricted cash prize, a distinctive trophy and a classroom plaque. Also, the West Virginia Foundation for the Improvement of Education, a foundation of WVEA, provides public schools of the recipients with $1,000 grants 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, WVEA 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 is one of the nation’s largest coal producers. 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.