Parkersburg High School’s Wright Receives Arch Coal Achievement Award

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (March 9, 2010) – Parkersburg teacher Mary Wright integrates new technology into her classroom each year. “As my students enter the workforce or continue their educations, the ability to know and use technology of the 21st century is crucial,” she notes. “It is my job to provide different types of technology to increase student comprehension. This helps expose them to more resources for the future, wherever it leads.”

Today Wright achieved an impressive milestone in her own “future.” From this time forward, she will be recognized as one of West Virginia’s finest teachers. Wright 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.

“Mary Wright knows her students will choose from a range of career paths after graduation,” says Leer. “Addressing only one of those areas in class makes the others seem less important, which isn’t the case,” he adds. “As a result, she strives to present materials that will help all her students succeed in their chosen careers.”

A 26-year educator and lifelong Parkersburg resident, Wright teaches trigonometry and algebra at Parkersburg High School. “A teacher needs to be confident in the role because he or she is the only adult in the room, molding the minds of so many young people,” she notes. “In addition, teachers need to differentiate instruction so that each student will master concepts that suit their learning styles,” Wright adds. “Students also need to see the purpose of the course in relationship to their needs. They must see the relevance.”

“Mary enriches her students’ educational experiences by integrating a very high level of technology use in the classroom,” says Margaret Hattman, a colleague and technology integration specialist. “As her students learn mathematics, they are also learning 21st century skills, by using graphing calculators, interactive whiteboards and Web 2.0 tools to enhance their studies and learn valuable skills for a competitive job market in the future.”

Wright earned her bachelor’s degree at West Virginia University, Morgantown. She uses summers to undertake new training and obtain additional education resources. Wright spent two weeks in Boston as part of a math and science team developing projects to bring back to school, and she has attended numerous Texas Instrument workshops. Participation in a Sky School at Wheeling Jesuit University enabled her to bring aerodynamic activities to her class as well. She has taken Algebra for All and Blue Ribbon Algebra workshops and a course in personal finance sponsored by the W.Va. State Treasurer’s Department. As part of her school’s technology team, Wright helps repair and maintain 500+ computers and servers. She has served as a presenter at the Governor’s Academy for Teachers on Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) and attended Project WILD, an environmental education program. Wright helps conduct the student council’s Red Cross blood drive, chairs the faculty’s social committee and further supports her community through church, civic and related initiatives.

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.