Education

Kelly Walsh High School’s Mahaffey Receives Arch Coal Achievement Award

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (April 27, 2010) - Rodney Gene Mahaffey’s first basic tenet as a teacher is that children are all that matter. His second basic tenet was best stated by a new school superintendent when he first met the high-school faculty, according to Mahaffey. “After explaining what we could expect from him, someone asked, ‘What do you expect from us?’” he recalls. “Without hesitation, the superintendent responded, ‘Love my children.’ I can’t think of a better classroom strategy than that.”

Today Mahaffey’s regard for his students and his profession received statewide recognition. He was one of only 10 Wyoming teachers 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.

“Rodney Mahaffey gives something very special to his students – himself,” says Leer. “He shares his reading, writing, thinking and life with them and asks them to do the same. He sees his sense of humor as a classroom asset,” Leer adds. “Rodney has fun in every class every day and wants his students to have fun while learning, too.”

A 30-plus-year veteran educator, Mahaffey teaches language and composition, creative writing and English courses to senior-level students at Kelly Walsh High School in Casper. “Rod had a huge impact on my daughter, a student in his senior English class, so much so that as a freshmen at the College of Wooster, in Wooster, Ohio, she named him as the teacher who had the greatest impact in her life,” says Fred Maguire, a math teacher and Mahaffey’s colleague. As a result of that nomination, Mahaffey was selected as the year’s only recipient of a Significant Educator Award, and he received and all-expense paid trip to Ohio to accept his honor.

“Rod’s greatest strengths as a teacher are his knowledge of the subject, his rapport with his students and his thirst for knowledge,” Maguire adds. “He is an incredible role model for lifelong learning to students and colleagues.”

Mahaffey earned an associate degree at Casper College; a bachelor’s degree at Colorado College, Colorado Springs; and bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Wyoming. He also has accumulated 60-plus post-graduate hours. Mahaffey continues his education through training programs and conferences as well as personal reading, writing, traveling and the production of art and music. He has earned numerous and prestigious honors at the county, state and national levels over the course of his career.

He further supports his community and beyond through involvement in a wide range of organizations and programs, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Wyoming Blues and Jazz Society, Meals on Wheels, Wyoming Art for the Cure, the Invisible Children and Make-A-Wish programs, to name a few.

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.