North Sevier Middle School’s Morgan
Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award
WELLINGTON, Utah (April 28, 2009) – As an undergraduate student, with a fire in her heart and a desire to change the world, teaching seemed unglamorous and ordinary to Deborah Morgan. “Then one day, when my economic status as a poor college student drove me to find more work, I found myself employed as a teaching assistant in a fourth-grade classroom,” she recalls.
“The students were like budding flowers, stretching and climbing to the sun, and I could help them reach it,” she says. “Teaching – the continuous ebb and flow of creativity and curiosity – fueled my desire to become what I once thought was ordinary. I was hooked!”
Today Morgan experienced another extraordinary aspect of her profession. She became one of only five Utah teachers to receive a 2009 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. John Eaves, Arch Coal president and chief operating officer, made the announcement during a presentation ceremony at Wellington Elementary School. Eaves was accompanied by Dixie Allen, state school board member, and Mark Mickelsen, executive director of the Utah Education Association.
“Some teachers teach because the subject matter comes easily to them,” says Eaves. “The reverse is true of Deborah Morgan. She teaches science because it doesn’t come naturally, and she loves the challenge. Conveying this helps her students appreciate science as a subject they can master and enjoy.”
With seven years as an educator, Morgan teaches science courses to students at North Sevier Middle School, Salina. “I recognize that one of my best qualities is my willingness to embrace my weaknesses and to work to make them strengths,” she says. “If I’m wrong, I admit it. If I expect my students to do it, I do it with them. If I don’t know the answer, I show them how to find the answer. If I’m weak in a certain subject, I immerse myself in it until I enjoy teaching it. This hasn’t come easily,” Morgan adds. “But I’ve found that when I’m not afraid to expose weaknesses, it’s easier to make them strengths. I encourage my students to do the same.”
Morgan earned a bachelor’s degree at Utah State University and a master’s degree at Mississippi State University. In 2005, she was chosen to be a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Teacher-At-Sea, spending 10 days aboard the NOAA ship, Fairweather, off the Alaskan coast. As part of her master’s degree program, she traveled to San Salvador, studying the island’s geology and learning firsthand the destructive powers of hurricanes and transplanted populations. In 2006, as a member of the Geologic Society of America, Morgan was chosen as a GeoCorps America intern and assigned to work for the U.S. Forest Service’s Intermount Region. She collected geologic data and built Web pages displaying the information that are still accessible today. She also designed curriculum and field-trip information based on these findings and presented it at a Utah Society for Environmental Education Conference. The past two summers, Morgan worked for an environmental research firm that collects sensitive species population data. “Each experience made going back to teaching in the fall that much more exciting,” she says. “I could hardly wait to share what I had learned.” Morgan has further supported her community by initiating Earth Day, star-viewing, science fair/exhibit and other activities, in which her students also take part.
The award is underwritten by the Arch Coal Foundation. In addition to recognition, award recipients receive a personal, $3,500 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. The Arch Coal Foundation also is a supporter of teacher recognition or grant programs in West Virginia, Wyoming and Colorado, as well as a number of other education-related causes.
Supporters of the program include the Office of Governor Jon Huntsman, Utah State Office of Education, Utah Education Association, Utah School Superintendents Association, Carbon County School District, Emery County School District, Sevier County School District, North Sanpete School District, South Sanpete School District, Far West Bank, Market Express, radio stations KMTI, KLGL, KMGR, KSVC, KCYQ, KOAL, KARB, KRPX, and both TacoTime and Bookcliff Sales in Price.
This is the third year the Arch Coal Foundation has sponsored the teacher recognition program in Carbon, Emery, Sanpete and Sevier counties. These counties surround the Dugout Canyon, Skyline and Sufco mines operated by Canyon Fuel Company, a subsidiary of major U.S. coal producer Arch Coal, Inc.
Arch Coal’s Canyon Fuel Company is Utah’s largest coal producer and a large state employer, with a workforce of approximately 800. Through its national network of mines, Arch Coal, Inc. provides 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.
Information about each of the five recipients is posted on the Arch Coal Web site: www.archcoal.com.