Dubois Middle School’s Ballinger Earns Arch Coal Achievement Award

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (April 29, 2009) – With nearly two decades as an educator, Jennet L. Ballinger views it a privilege to help students learn and to be in a profession that provides rewards every day. “When middle school students are figuring out difficult math concepts, making relevant connections or asking questions because they want to know more, it’s cause for celebration,” she says.

Today Ballinger experienced yet another reason to celebrate. She became one of only 10 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 Buffalo Ridge Elementary School. Leer was accompanied by Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, First Lady Nancy Freudenthal, Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jim McBride and Wyoming Education Association (WEA) Vice President Craig Williams.

“Jennet Ballinger’s teaching philosophy is simple – do what is best for the students,” says Leer. “While ever mindful of classroom and subject matters, she addresses their physical, emotional and social needs as well.”

Ballinger teaches math and science courses at Dubois Middle School, where she provides motivational learning opportunities and modeling strategies for success. “Every child deserves a good education, and it is my responsibility to facilitate that endeavor,” Ballinger notes.

“I do my best to respect each student’s individuality and to do all I can to help each set goals and realize their potential,” she adds. “Lady Bird Johnson is credited with the quote, ‘Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them,’ and I believe in my students,” Ballinger adds. “They know I support them and am willing to assist them as they develop the knowledge and resiliency needed for success.”

Ballinger earned a bachelor’s degree at Nebraska’s Chadron State College and a master’s degree at the University of Wyoming. She helped expand her district’s core curriculum, which involved attending the McRel (Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning) Laboratory in Denver. This was followed by acceptance into the Wyoming Department of Education’s Professional Development Institute and completion of an Understanding by Design course. After being named Wyoming D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Educator of the Year, she became education adviser for Wyoming D.A.R.E., a five-year position in which she aligned health standards with D.A.R.E. curriculum and taught law enforcement academy officers about working with students. Ballinger’s professional affiliations include the National and Wyoming Education associations, National and Wyoming councils of Teachers of Mathematics and the Wyoming Science Teachers Association. She further supports her community through church initiatives and philanthropic organizations.

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.

This is the ninth 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.

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

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 sold 100 million tons of cleaner-burning, low-sulfur coal in 2008. Arch Coal is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACI) and maintains its corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.

Information about each of the 10 recipients is posted on the Arch Coal Web site: