East High School’s Kassel Receives Arch Coal Achievement Award

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (April 27, 2010) - Amy Kathryn Kassel knew she wanted to become a teacher while she was a kindergarten student. “I remember playing school as a youth, and I was always the teacher,” she recalls. “As I grew older, I wanted to be a teacher of mathematics, because I wanted to share the beauty of math with others. I love seeing the ‘ah-ha!’ moment in students’ eyes and their enthusiasm when they understand a difficult concept.”

Today Kassel is likely to spot that same enthusiasm from students, colleagues and friends as they learn that Kassel ranks among Wyoming’s top educators. She was one of only 10 teachers statewide to receive a 2010 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Steven F. Leer, Arch Coal chairman and chief executive officer, made the announcement during a presentation ceremony at the Wyoming House of Representatives. Leer was accompanied by Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jim McBride and Wyoming Education Association (WEA) President Kathryn Valido. This is the 10th year the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards have been made in Wyoming.

“Amy Kathryn Kassel daily demonstrates her passion for mathematics while striving to instill in her students the value of being passionate about something in their lives,” says Leer. “She and her students work together to create a positive learning environment, where everyone can experience success.”

A 17-year teaching veteran, Kassel teaches math at Cheyenne’s East High School. “One of my strengths as a classroom teacher is my rapport with my students,” she says. “I attend activities in which my students are involved. I ask my students about their lives and their future goals. This knowledge allows me to individualize portions of the curriculum,” Kassel adds.

“Because of the relationship I have with students, they are usually willing to work harder, even when they have had a bad day or something else is wrong in their lives. This helps me be very effective in the classroom,” she says.

“Having over 100 students may cause some teachers to get frustrated and not have any connections with their students,” says Kassel’s student, Jessica C. Jester. “Mrs. Kassel always maintains control in her classroom, and whenever a student needs individual help, she will stay in during her lunch or even after school to make sure that student fully understands the given problem,” she adds. “Because she is always kind and open, Mrs. Kassel’s students never feel intimidated to ask her a question, and they know that her door is always open. She gives respect to all her students, using ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ to make us feel like respectable, young adults.”

Kassel earned a bachelor’s degree at Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, and a master’s degree at Western Illinois University, Macomb. She has achieved National Board Certification and continues her education through workshops and courses, such as the Summer Math Institute at the University of Wyoming, which she has annually attended since 2002. For her next “adventure,” Kassel has applied for the Mathematics Teacher Leadership Program through the University of Wyoming and University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. She is her school’s student council adviser and a member of the Wyoming Association of Student Councils’ executive board. Kassel also serves as business sponsorship chair of the Cheyenne Capitals Youth Hockey Association Booster Club and as scheduler for the entire association.

Each Teacher Achievement Award recipient receives a distinctive trophy, a classroom plaque and a $3,500 personal, cash award. 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 Wyoming Department of Education, the Wyoming Education Association, the Wyoming library community, Taco John’s and Loaf ‘N Jug stores are longstanding supporters of the program.

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

Arch Coal, Inc. is the nation’s second largest coal producer. Arch Coal’s subsidiaries Thunder Basin Coal Company and Arch of Wyoming employ approximately 1,800 people in Wyoming. Thunder Basin’s Black Thunder and Coal Creek mines produce approximately 12 percent of the annual U.S. coal supply. Arch Coal is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACI) and maintains its corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.