Lumberport Middle School’s Jones Receives Arch Coal Achievement Award

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (March 8, 2011) – Middle School teacher Becky Jones begins each class with affirmations. “I start a phrase, and the students orally complete it,” notes the 25-year educator. “For example, I will say, ‘I am,’ and the students respond, with conviction, ‘somebody.’ Or I will say, ‘nobody, but nobody,’ and the students respond, ‘can make me feel like a nobody,’” she adds. “These simple statements over a period of time can completely change a student’s self-perception.”

Today Jones’ students witnessed the power of positive thinking. They learned their teacher is not only a “somebody,” but also ranks among West Virginia’s top teachers. Jones was among only 12 statewide to receive a 2011 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Arch Coal Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steven F. Leer made the announcement during a presentation ceremony at the Clay Center in Charleston. He was accompanied by West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) Executive Director David Haney.

“Becky Jones believes her students’ individual needs must come before anything else,” says Leer. “She also believes one of her most important tasks can’t be found in any content objective, standard or textbook – the job of teaching students to believe in themselves.”

A Fairmont resident, Jones teaches science to eighth-grade students at Lumberport Middle School, Lumberport. “I make a discernible effort to help my students in all areas of their lives,” she says. “All content material will take a back seat if the student is experiencing suicidal thoughts, depression, physical, mental, verbal, drug and/or alcohol abuse, etc. My goal is to get them the help they need so they can focus on academics. Without doing this, all efforts to teach are in vain.

“Numerous suicidal students I’ve worked with have told me that they believe they are alive only because of me,” she adds. “Other students have ‘adopted’ me as a second mom and continue to keep in touch long after the school year has ended. How can any other career satisfaction compete with the knowledge that you have the power to touch a life forever?”

Jones earned her bachelor’s degree at Fairmont State University, and she has achieved National Board Certification. She is a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) at the national level for West Virginia. As part of the prize, Jones got to spend a week in Washington, D.C., with other winners from around the nation. Jones also is part of a committee of teachers who provide feedback to policymakers, and she serves as a mentor for beginning teachers around the nation. She continues her education through periodicals, documentaries and travel and by teaching herself to utilize new technology. Jones further serves her community through volunteer initiatives involving church, civic, athletic and other education-related 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, Inc. is one of the world’s largest and most efficient coal producers, with more than 160 million tons sold in 2010. Arch supplies cleaner-burning, low-sulfur coal to customers on four continents through its national network of mines. In West Virginia, Arch 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.