Education

Arch Coal Names Stengel Teacher Achievement Award Recipient

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Feb. 27, 2008) – Marcia Stengel worked at a water park for 11 years, eventually becoming the oldest employee. “For the last five seasons I worked there, my boss required me to train all new lifeguards on the slides, pools and water apparatus,” Stengel recalls. “It was teaching. Did I realize it then? No. I was going to school to be an engineer.”

That changed when Stengel had problems with linear algebra. “So I looked at my transcript and determined what areas I did well in; English stood out. I even remembered enjoying it in high school, even though it wasn’t my best subject. Then I thought about what I liked best about my summer job – people, especially young people.” That’s when Stengel decided to transfer to a school for English and teaching. “Not a fancy story, but the truth,” she notes.

It may not be fancy, but it is interesting. Furthermore, it documents the beginning of a career path that landed Stengel where she is today – among 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.

“Marcia Stengel draws upon her life experiences to be the best teacher she can be,” says Leer. “Her natural abilities to coach and train allow her to enhance students’ lives.”

Stengel teaches English courses to sophomore students at Jefferson High School, Shenandoah Junction. “I teach now because I enjoy what I do. I am making a difference,” she says. “I make that statement based on several things: my students and their parents, my colleagues, my family and myself.”

When her husband once asked Stengel why she continued to write lesson plans, after 11 years of teaching, she said it was because she doesn’t teach out of a filing cabinet. “That would be boring, and bored workers don’t like their jobs. I do,” says Stengel. “And I acknowledge that I am not the same person each year, and neither are my students. I have to determine their strengths and cater to them, while encouraging them to try new things and expand their horizons, just like I am. It does make a difference to the kids, and that is all I want to do.”

Stengel earned an associate degree at Adirondack Community College, Queensbury, N.Y.; a bachelor’s degree at the State University of New York College, Potsdam; and a master’s degree at West Virginia University. She participates in a range of development opportunities to continue her education and is an advocate of co-teacher training. Stengel further serves her community through volunteer initiatives. She serves on the board of her son’s preschool and worked with the Shepherdstown and Charles Town Rotary clubs in soliciting volunteers to complete mock interviews with her students. Some former students have even been offered summer jobs based on those interviews.

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.