Monongah Elementary’s Swiger Receives Arch Coal Achievement Award

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (March 9, 2010) – According to Lynette Swiger, an educator for 27 years, those who intend to choose teaching as a profession should be prepared to embrace the job, assimilate it into their personalities and make it an intrinsic part of their beings. “It is a lifestyle as well as a vocation,” she notes. “For me, the motivation then and now for accepting this awesome responsibility was multilayered. Foremost are the children and their often intense need for a stable adult to guide, inspire and encourage them. Secondly is the knowledge that I provide a service that has far-reaching and positive implications for society.”

Today one of those far-reaching implications came to fruition. Swiger was among only 12 teachers statewide to be named a 2010 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award recipient. Arch Coal Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steven F. Leer made the announcement at the Clay Center in Charleston, accompanied by West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) President Dale Lee and Dr. Steven Paine, state superintendent of schools.

“Lynette Swiger knows society will be dramatically different when her elementary school students become adults and that they need educational and problem-solving skills to adapt and apply their knowledge,” says Leer. “She also believes educators must address students’ emotional and social – as well as their intellectual and physical – needs for them to become well-functioning adults.”

A Fairmont resident, Swiger currently teaches third-grade students at Monongah Elementary. “One important thing I do for my students is to instill confidence in them and their abilities,” she says. “Many children live stressful lives, and they often arrive in my classroom having learned to use anger and hostility as defense mechanisms that mask their academic and personal weaknesses and insecurities,” Swiger adds. “I establish guidelines that let children know everyone is valued, wrong answers are OK, and the only thing that’s unacceptable is a lack of effort. Knowing this, children can release their fears of being wrong or ridiculed and open themselves to the excitement of acquiring knowledge and learning how to learn.”

Swiger earned a bachelor’s degree at Fairmont State College and a master’s degree at West Virginia University. She currently is enrolled in Fairmont State University’s reading specialist program and working on a folklore minor through FSU’s West Virginia Folklife Center. Swiger also has continued her education through technology and Carbo Learning Styles training, a Ruby Paine poverty-training session and international travel. She is a Gilder-Lehrman West Virginia History Teacher of the Year and a West Virginia finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Swiger was chosen as a Teacher at Sea by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; for a teacher study tour of Germany by the Transatlantic Outreach Program (TOPS); and as one of “100 Most Influential People” by the Dominion Post newspaper. She is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an honorary sorority for teachers that designates altruism as one of its founding traditions. Swiger also works with an 85-year-old master hammered-dulcimer player in an effort to collect, learn, preserve and pass on the old-time music of the Appalachian people.

In addition to recognition, awardees receive a $3,500 unrestricted cash prize, a distinctive trophy and a classroom plaque. The West Virginia Foundation for the Improvement of Education, a foundation of WVEA, makes a $1,000 award to each recipient’s school, for use with at-risk students.

The teacher recognition awards are underwritten by the Arch Coal Foundation and supported in program-promotion by the West Virginia Department of Education, the WVEA and the West Virginia Library Commission. The Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards is the longest running, privately sponsored teacher-recognition program in the state. Nominations are made by the public, and selection is made by a blue-ribbon panel of the teachers’ peers – previous recipients of the award.

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

Arch Coal is the nation’s second largest coal producer. Through its national network of mines, Arch supplies the fuel for approximately 8 percent of the electricity generated in the United States. In West Virginia, Arch Coal subsidiaries operate the Mountain Laurel and Coal-Mac complexes. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACI) and maintains its corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.