Education

Gunnison Valley High’s Johnson Receives
Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

WELLINGTON, Utah (April 28, 2009) – Although much has been said about the increasing difficulty in teaching teenagers today, Lars Johnson believes nearly all young people have a desire to learn and to prepare themselves for life. “Teachers must keep students motivated and interested, as well as give them the necessary subject material,” he says. “That is the kind of teacher I try to be.

“Frequently, students are not prepared in their study habits or depth of knowledge to do well in university courses,” Johnson adds. “I believe each of my students will be prepared for the future because of the basic training in my classroom. They may not remember all the details of the subject, but I work hard to provide each student with an understanding of problem-solving techniques that will help them in the future.”

No matter what the future holds, Johnson’s students have had an excellent role model. Today he 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.

“In counseling potential teachers, Lars Johnson encourages them to find a subject they love and will be excited about for the rest of their lives,” says Eaves. “He tells them teaching is an always-on-call profession that requires hard work, constant learning and the ability to change the concepts of the material and the manner in which it is presented, so that others can learn,” Eaves adds.

A 21-year veteran educator, Johnson teaches chemistry, physics and concurrent enrollment (college-preparatory) courses at Gunnison Valley High School. “My goal each day is to help students have a good experience by talking with them about things they’re excited about. I want students to go home and discuss what we have learned over the dinner table,” Johnson says. “Parents tell me how excited their students are to be in my class, and students tell me they don’t want to miss class. That is success.”

Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University and a master’s degree at the University of Utah. He has continued his development throughout his career through science- and technology-related workshops. As a member of the PTRA (Physics Teacher Resource Agent), Johnson conducted five week-long workshops for fellow physics teachers from four states. He also conducted two workshops at National Science Teacher Association meetings in Salt Lake City. Johnson further serves his community through a range of volunteer initiatives. He is a member of the Mayfield Planning and Zoning Commission and has helped update and maintain the television booster station for eight years. Johnson supports Lion’s Club activities and scouting events. He and his wife began a youth soccer program in Gunnison and were instrumental in getting soccer sanctioned at the high school for both boys’ and girls’ teams.

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.