Education

Chapmanville Middle School’s Bias Receives Arch Coal Achievement Award

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (April 17, 2009) – To be an effective social studies teacher, Drema Bias believes she must emphasize “the importance of tolerating other peoples’ opinions, beliefs and behavior.”

Today, Bias had a firsthand opportunity to see opinions shaped about excellent classroom teachers. Bias was one of only 12 teachers statewide to receive a 2009 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Steven F. Leer, Arch Coal chairman and chief executive officer, made the announcement during a presentation ceremony at the Clay Center in Charleston. He was accompanied by West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, First Lady Gayle Manchin and West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) President Dale Lee.

“Drema Bias engages her students in a nurturing and compassionate way while challenging them to be their very best,” says Leer. “She motivates and encourages so that students of every ability level can succeed.”

Bias teaches fifth grade social studies at Chapmanville Middle School. Her students’ studies of American history, for example, help them analyze and better understand events in the country’s past, including examples of intolerance. “The students readily see the struggles these groups – Native Americans, African Americans, Chinese and Japanese – had to endure. When students are able to empathize with others, there is broader understanding and respect between classmates, which, in turn, minimizes animosity,” says Bias.

Says colleague Terilyn Wilson, “Drema Bias employs creative, flexible activities within her classroom that make social studies come ‘alive.’ Students don’t just read about the legal processes in the United States. They are actively engaged in presenting a mock trial where each student has a role. Students investigate, formulate plans and become competitively involved in the trial’s solution.”

Bias has spent her entire 30-year teaching career in the Chapmanville schools. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Marshall University. Bias also has a middle school educational endorsement from West Virginia Graduate College. She has received her school’s “teacher of the month” award numerous times and was nominated in 2008 to be Logan County’s Wal-Mart teacher of the year. She is a member of the local library board, a volunteer children’s softball coach and has served as an after school tutor. She engages her students in activities that provide for the needy on local, national and even international levels, making care packages for the poor in other countries, creating Christmas stockings for the Salvation Army and writing cards and sending gifts to a local veterans’ home and to soldiers overseas.

In addition to recognition, award recipients receive a $3,500 unrestricted cash prize, a distinctive trophy and a classroom plaque. The West Virginia Foundation for the Improvement of Education, a foundation of WVEA, makes a $1,000 award to each recipient’s school, 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, the 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.

The Arch Coal Foundation also is a supporter of teacher recognition or grant programs in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado, as well as a number of other education-related causes.

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. In West Virginia, Arch Coal subsidiaries operate the Mountain Laurel and Coal-Mac operations. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACI) and maintains its corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.