Education

Twin Spruce Junior High’s Kuhbacher Receives Arch Achievement Award

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (April 13, 2011) – Boni Jo Kuhbacher believes the most important thing any teacher can do is be a good role model. “It is our job to help prepare students for a successful life,” explains the six-year teaching veteran. “Students notice when teachers are late, when they aren’t prepared and when they don’t care about what they are teaching. Students know if their teacher understands what they are talking about and realize when teachers are faking enthusiasm for a subject or activity. It is a person who hasn’t been around children who thinks children don’t notice everything adults do,” she adds. “Our actions should represent what we want our students to become: responsible, honest and reliable members of society.”

Today Kuhbacher modeled yet another role for her students – that of one of the top educators in the state. She was among only 10 Wyoming teachers 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 Carey Junior High School in Cheyenne. Leer was accompanied by Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and Wyoming Education Association (WEA) Executive Director Craig Williams. This is the 11th year the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards have been made in Wyoming.

“Boni Jo Kuhbacher believes every person is capable of achieving some type of greatness if they have someone who is willing to believe in them, if they are determined and if they apply themselves,” says Leer. “She knows it is her job to be an excellent role model and to care about each and every student, especially those struggling with self-esteem.”

A Gillette resident, Kuhbacher teaches seventh-grade students at Gillette’s Twin Spruce Junior High School. Instead of initially pursuing a teaching degree, however, she first earned a degree in engineering. “Many people are dumbfounded by my choice and can’t understand why I would give up a lucrative career [in engineering] to spend my days with unruly junior-high kids.

“Seeing the spark in a student’s eyes is one of life’s greatest rewards,” Kuhbacher adds. “It is very important to me that I am helping to prepare young men and women for their futures. I love the subjects I teach, and being able to transfer enthusiasm for something that is fundamental to the future success of my students is why I teach.”

Kuhbacher earned a bachelor’s degree at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and a master’s degree at Montana State University, while earning certification to teach math and chemistry as well. She continues her development through staff-enrichment training opportunities, including Differentiated Instruction, brain-based research and a number of classes in English Language Learner (ELL) to become more effective with students whose primary language is not English. Kuhbacher has coached MathCounts and Science Olympiad teams, and she sponsors her school’s Science Club. She further serves her community through a range of church-sponsored initiatives.

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.

Longstanding supporters of the program are the Wyoming Department of Education, the Wyoming Education Association, the Wyoming library community, Taco John’s and Loaf ‘N Jug stores.

The Arch Coal Foundation also supports teacher-recognition and grant programs in West Virginia, Utah and Colorado, as well as a number of other education-related causes.

U.S.-based Arch Coal, Inc. (NYSE:ACI) is one of the largest coal producers in the world, with more than 160 million tons of coal sold in 2010. Arch’s national network of mines supplies cleaner-burning, low-sulfur coal to customers on four continents, including U.S. and international power producers and steel manufacturers. Arch’s Wyoming operations – Thunder Basin Coal Company’s Black Thunder and Coal Creek mines and the Arch of Wyoming operations – have a combined workforce of more than 1,800.

Information about each of the 10 current recipients, as well as past recipients, is posted at archteacherawards.com.