Douglas Primary School’s Baum Earns Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (April 29, 2009) – Olive M. Baum takes a teaching approach borrowed from Horton, the beloved elephant created by Dr. Seuss: I meant what I said, and I said what I meant; an elephant’s faithful 100 percent.

In short, she views her role as a position based on trust. “As a teacher, I believe it is my responsibility to build a personal relationship with my individual students as quickly as possible,” she explains. “Each one must feel secure, protected, respected and honored as someone possessing valued feelings and contributions if learning is to take place.”

Today her convictions were recognized statewide. Baum became one of only 10 Wyoming teachers 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.

“Over the course of her 30-year career, Olive Baum has positively impacted the lives of students, parents, friends and colleagues,” says Leer. “No matter what the teaching challenge, her goals are the same – to fill children with the excitement and joy of learning, the self-confidence to reach for a dream and the ability to become a contributing citizen.”

Baum teaches reading, writing and math courses to first- and second-grade students at Douglas Primary School. “It is my responsibility to set the stage for creating, motivating and instilling the joy of learning,” she notes. “This is accomplished by honoring each child’s unique learning style and special needs.”

“Olive extends her teaching beyond her classroom,” says Brent Notman, school principal. “She has initiated a component to her teaching in which parents are invited to her classroom one evening a month. The only compensation she receives is appreciation from parents and the administration. She uses these evenings to create a bond with parents and teach them ways to enhance their child’s learning. Olive truly has her students’ best interests at heart in extending herself to the parents.”

Baum earned a bachelor’s degree at Metropolitan State College, Denver, and master’s degrees at Lesley University, Cambridge, Mass., and the University of Wyoming. She further supports her community in various ways, from sending personal messages of encouragement to conducting extracurricular initiatives aimed at familiarizing parents with reading, writing and math skills and strategies.

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: