Wilson Named Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award Recipient

GILLETTE, Wyo. (May 6, 2008) – When Hillcrest Elementary students in Gillette go to music class, they oftentimes get far more than music.

That’s because Susie Wilson, the music teacher, also teaches cooperation, teamwork, compassion and tolerance. Additionally, she works collaboratively with the other teachers in her school to enhance learning across the curriculum.

Today, Wilson was honored as 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.

“Susie Wilson teaches students more than the joy of music,” says Leer. “Through the music, she also works to boost self esteem and help develop problem-solving skills.”.

“Music is a universal language that affects everyone and I feel compelled and obligated to share what I know,” says Wilson. “I believe music education creates balance and is necessary for every young person in their journey to find their inner goodness and worth.”

In her classes, students learn to dance to different types of music, use a wide variety of instruments to make music – including some they make – and perform in groups and solo. Imagine instruments as diverse as African drums, xylophones, and recorders alongside homemade ones from PVC pipe, garbage lids and discarded pickle buckets from the high school cafeteria – and one gets an idea of the musical diversity found in Wilson’s classes.

“She has a knack for seeing each child’s talent and potential,” says Deidre Valerio, a mother of two of Wilson’s former students. “She continually encourages students even after they are no longer at her school and has the determination and drive to pull the best out of each student and the patience to see it through.”

Cooperation with teaching colleagues is important to Wilson, because she can tie he music activities to other subjects. “I wrote and directed two music programs this year that tie directly to studies in other classrooms,” Wilson explains. “One was based on a book about penguins, studied by first grade students. A 3rd/4th grade program about Wyoming history included historical facts, songs, jokes, dances and movement.”

Wilson, who has taught for almost 16 years, has a bachelor’s in Music Education from the University of Montana, Missoula, and a Master of Science degree in curriculum and instruction from Black Hills State University, Spearfish, S.D. She is pursuing her National Board Certification. In addition, she has both Level I and II Orff training certifications. She is active at her church, serves on a local Improvement and Service District Board and has supported and been a substitute director with the Campbell County Children’s Chorale.

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.