Madison Middle School’s Ellis Receives Arch Coal Achievement Award

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (March 8, 2011) – Eva L. Ellis gives an example of the influence teachers have on students’ lives. Unfortunately, one had a negative influence on this 23-year veteran educator. “From the beginning of my school days, I strived to do my best, always aspiring to be at the top of the class,” Ellis recalls. “Fourth grade was a very significant year. The best class readers were to be chosen for the local radio station’s Christmas read-aloud. I was excited at the thought of being selected.

“Alas, it was not to be,” Ellis adds. “The teacher might as well have stuck a knife in my heart as she heartlessly informed me that no one would ever want to listen to me read. I was totally devastated, and that one remark continued to affect my life. Speech classes corrected my sound errors, but the scars that affected my career choice remained. I felt I could not choose jobs involving oral communications; thereby, I selected medical technology.”

While providing clinical training, students complimented Ellis’ instruction, asking if she had ever considered teaching. “I just did not think I had that vital voice quality,” Ellis says. Later, while working with a Brownie troop, Ellis realized she thoroughly enjoyed teaching. “I returned to college to complete my teaching degree and have had no regrets,” she notes.

Today, Ellis learned that others applaud her career decision. Ellis was among only 12 teachers 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.

“Eva L. Ellis creates an equitable learning environment in which students function as a community of learners,” says Leer. “Relationships based on respect allow her students to express themselves without fear of intimidation. A positive teacher/student relation, based on respect, creates a relaxed learning environment, inspiring students to do their best.”

Lake resident Ellis teaches science courses for seventh-grade students at Madison Middle School, Madison. “Children are naturally curious, constantly wanting to know why and how. My desire is to nurture their natural inquisitiveness by showing them my passion for all sciences,” she says. “Learning, like teaching, is a lifelong process. I am motivated by my students’ excitement as they enter the classroom and ask, ‘What are we doing today?’ and comments such as, ‘I feel like a real scientist!’ The most important thing I do for my students is to make them more aware of the endless possibilities the world has to offer them.”

Ellis earned an associate degree at Southern W.Va. Community College, Logan; a bachelor’s degree at W.Va. State, Institute; and a master’s degree at the Marshall University College of Graduate Studies, Charleston. Ellis also has achieved National Board Certification. She is the recipient of several grants that benefit the entire school. Ellis is a W.Va. Governor’s School for Mathematics and Science Award recipient, nominated by a high school senior she taught in middle school. She is an active member of Alpha Delta Kappa, a teachers’ sorority, through which she helps support community projects, such as Susan G. Komen breast cancer research, Special Olympics, homeless shelters and Ronald McDonald House. Ellis has served as a Sunday School teacher, Brownie leader and PTA president. She also has supported the local school improvement council and curriculum team and is a member of the W.Va. and National Science Teachers associations.

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.