Dowding Named Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award Recipient

GILLETTE, Wyo. (May 6, 2008) – Newcastle High School teacher Sharla Dowding says she teaches her students biology and chemistry – and persistence.

“Sometimes we have to wait for delayed satisfaction,” Dowding says. Because not all students learn in the same way or at the same time, she uses many hands-on and cooperative activities in her classroom, which provide opportunities for all students to experience success.

Today, it was Dowding who experienced success. She was honored as one of only 10 Wyoming classroom 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.

“Sharla Dowding holds her students to high standards and oftentimes challenges students to achieve at higher levels than they thought possible,” says Leer. “She clearly holds herself to a very high standard as well.”

“Her dedication to excellence in education goes far beyond the school day,” says colleague Kathleen Engle. “Her greatest attribute is her conviction to hold students responsible for their learning. She stays after school to assist students who need help and is available to them on weekends if needed.”

“I feel fortunate that my mission in life, my vocation, and my passion are all the same: I want to teach science in a manner that will develop compassionate, competent citizens who will be assets to our society,” Dowding states.

“Using technology daily in the classroom is an intellectual challenge for both students and me,” says Dowding, who has taught for 16 years. “There is an overwhelming amount of technology available for applications in science. I work to incorporate technology into my class labs, lectures and review games because it motivates students.”

Dowding holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science education from Chadron State College, Chadron, Neb., and is currently working on her doctorate in education from Montana State University. She has attended numerous professional institutes, including one at the NASA AMES Research Center. She also has her National Board Certification. Additionally, she has received several grants, including the Wyoming Presidential Science Teaching Award. She also has served as the Wyoming Science Teachers Association president, co-chaired the state science teachers’ conference, and currently serves as the National Science Teachers Association District XV director.

She volunteers as her school’s quiz bowl team and science Olympiad sponsor, as well as serves as the director of the Regional Science Fair. Dowding is a committee member of the Wyoming Professional Teacher Standards Board and Wyoming PAWS data and item review committee.

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.