Education

Gunderson Named Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award Recipient

GILLETTE, Wyo. (May 6, 2008) – “I think a teacher needs to get to know his students as individuals, make them feel safe and comfortable in the classroom, and then find out what teaching method helps each student learn,” says Thor Gunderson, a math teacher at Campbell County High School.

“Effective teachers must be able to relate to children, be able to laugh at themselves, and be life-long learners,” according to Gunderson.

Today, Gunderson’s attention to individual learning styles garnered him a 2008 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award, one of only 10 awarded statewide. 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.

“Thor Gunderson achieves positive results from his students because he sets high, but reasonable standards,” says Leer. “It’s terrific that he understands his students learn in different ways and that he employs multiple teaching strategies to help them grasp the subject matter.”

“Mr. Gunderson is very adept at connecting students to the mathematical lessons,” says former teaching colleague Terry Quinn. “This is a very critical talent for the children we are now seeing in the classroom.”

“We’ve incorporated a new curriculum in math over the last few years that is more problem-solving based, and is organized in such a way that students need to communicate and help each other,” says Gunderson. “This method of teaching is research-based and the data we’ve received since going to this curriculum have been positive.”

With 27 years of teaching experience, Gunderson says he still gets “great satisfaction” when students accomplish that which seemed unattainable just a few days or weeks earlier. His students’ success continues to motivate him to become an even better teacher.

Gunderson has a Bachelor of Science degree from Rocky Mountain College, Billings, Mt., a Master of Science degree from Black Hills State University, Spearfish, S.D., and has received National Board Certification. He is Campbell County’s secondary math facilitator. He is active in his church and also has been involved in numerous civic programs, from youth sports to Special Olympics. He also conducts special math help programs in the evening at the local public library to help students prepare for the ACT exam.

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.