Liberty Elementary’s Donofe Receives Arch Coal Achievement Award

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (March 9, 2010) – As a child, Melanie A. Donofe enjoyed playing school with her friends and being the teacher. Eventually, however, she entered the medical field at a local hospital laboratory. “But I never felt fulfilled,” recalls Donofe. “I had the need to make a difference in helping children, so I decided to pursue my dream of being a teacher.

“When I entered the classroom for the first time, I felt a tremendous amount of satisfaction in knowing that I can change students’ lives,” she adds. “The most important thing that I do for my students is to teach them to have confidence in themselves and that they can accomplish anything they desire.”

Today Donofe’s students got a chance to see their teacher realize such an accomplishment. She was one of only 12 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 Clay Center in Charleston. He was accompanied by West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) President Dale Lee and Dr. Steven Paine, state superintendent of schools.

“Melanie Donofe believes the object of teaching a child is to enable the child to succeed without the teacher,” says Leer. “Her goal is to give students the confidence they need to apply what they learn both in and out of the classroom.”

Now a 21-year veteran educator, Donofe teaches gifted/advanced tier RTI (Response to Intervention) students in grades first through eighth at Liberty Elementary School, Weirton. “In order to be an outstanding teacher, one must always be learning,” she says. “Continuous learning provides me with the strength and resources I need to be effective with my students.”

“I have known Melanie Donofe since she taught my son in the gifted program of first grade,” says Pia Robinson. “I have been a witness to the results of her dedication to teaching through my son’s constant thirst for knowledge throughout not only his elementary and middle school years, but also his last three-and-a-half years of high school. I have no doubt that Melanie’s influence is responsible for his continued success in academics and athletics as well.”

Donofe earned a bachelor’s degree at West Liberty State College; a master’s degree and gifted certification at West Virginia University, Morgantown; administrative certification at Salem International University; and National Board Certification through the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. Being a member of the National and West Virginia Education associations gives her the opportunity to attend conferences and learn new classroom techniques, as well as newly passed laws and policies. She also is a mentor for others going through the NCB process. Donofe has been a Weirton Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year and a nominee for Liberty School’s Teacher of the Year. She is a recipient of two Arch Coal Golden Apple Achiever Awards and has been named to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers three times. Donofe further supports her community through involvement in a range of civic and community-betterment organizations and activities.

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.