Woodrow Wilson High’s Shaw Receives Arch Coal Achievement Award

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (March 9, 2010) – Having grown up in a creative family, Sandra Lee Shaw always had plenty of art supplies. Yet she didn’t consider teaching art as a career until after entering college as an English major. Then, during her first year of college, Shaw chose Art Appreciation B for one of her general studies courses.

“One day the instructor passed out boxes of pastels, which I had never used before, and announced, ‘Draw me,’” Shaw recalls. “Making his rounds at the end of the class, he stopped to examine my drawing and asked if he could keep it! He then looked at me and said, ‘Why aren’t you an art major?’ After listening to my explanation, he simply said, ‘You should be an art major.’ That one short exchange changed the course of my life.”

Today Shaw received further validation of her career decision. 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.

“Sandra Shaw seizes the opportunity to help guide students into a productive, self-confident, positive adulthood, so that they can make their own marks on the world,” notes Leer. “She views this opportunity as an honor and a privilege. We’re honored to recognize her today.”

A resident of Daniels, W.Va., Shaw has spent the last seven years of her 28-year career teaching art courses to tenth- through twelfth-grade students at Woodrow Wilson High School (WWHS), Beckley. “My greatest contribution in education is that I have the ability to make kids believe in themselves and their ability to learn,” says Shaw. “I accomplish this by accepting and respecting every student without judgment.

“My classroom is an environment of security, where the students know they can take chances without being made fun of or being embarrassed,” she adds. “We applaud risk-taking in my classroom, and I tell students that mistakes are just opportunities to do something different. They know I expect the very best from them and that I will not accept less than 100 percent.”

Shaw earned her bachelor’s degree at Concord College, Athens, W.Va., and a master’s degree at Phoenix-based Grand Canyon University. She has achieved National Board Certification (NCB) as well. Shaw continues her education and professional development through workshops, conferences and classes. She serves as a mentor to new educators and AP teachers and as a Candidate Support Provider for others involved in the NCB process. She works with members of the state department in development of Project Based Learning units that will be published on the West Virginia Department of Education Web site. Shaw sponsors the WWHS art club and its Young Democrats organization, the latter of which performs charitable work in the community. She is a member of the Beckley Art group, serving as chair of its Fine Arts Committee. Shaw also directs a two-week art camp at the Beckley Art Center for elementary children, and she helped organize the Beckley Junior Art Group.

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.