Education

Gunnison Valley Middle School’s Hansen Receives Arch Achievement Award

Richfield, Utah (April 15, 2011) – About 30 years ago, Karen A. Hansen was offered a job as a teacher’s assistant at the elementary school her children attended. One afternoon, the teacher, Ms. Jensen, pulled Hansen aside and said, “You are too good at this to keep doing it as an aide, go to school and get your teaching credentials.”

“Thus began a whirlwind of change in my life,” recalls Hansen, a 20-year teaching veteran. “With the total support of my husband, in January 1989, I became a new college student, without a single college credit. Having an urgent need to complete this goal, some quarters I carried full credit loads from two colleges, attending classes during the day and in the evening, as well as through the summer,” she adds. “This allowed me to graduate with my bachelor’s degree one and a half years later and become a special education teacher in August 1991.”

Today Hansen reaped a reward for those long-ago efforts. She became one of only five Utah teachers to receive a 2011 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Arch Coal Senior Vice President Paul Lang made the announcement at Ashman Elementary School. He was accompanied by Utah Education Association Vice President Tom Nedreberg. This is the fifth year the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards have been made in Utah.

“Karen Hansen believes a teacher has the responsibility to plan and prepare and to be enthusiastic and excited about learning,” says Lang. “She also supports a safe classroom environment that encourages maximum learning. She strives to treat each of her students the way she would want other teachers to treat her own children.”

A Centerfield resident, Hansen teaches sixth-grade students at Gunnison Valley Middle School. “As each new group of students arrives with smiles of anticipation, I look forward to the challenge of getting to know them,” she notes. “Throughout the course of the year, we will work to improve their skills in every area of their lives.

“There are many facets to a student’s education, especially in middle school,” Hansen adds. “Along with the academics, these sixth-graders are entering a whole new world of change. Yes, they are at the threshold of developing their minds with greater abilities and understanding in reading, writing and arithmetic, but they also are entering the years of physical, social and emotional change that will compete for their energy and focus.

“Students of this age are most interesting,” Hansen adds. “I marvel at their ability to balance all that takes place in their lives and continue on. Watching these battles each day and each year with new classrooms of students keeps me excited and motivated to return day after day and give my best effort to their teaching.”

Hansen earned an associate degree at Snow College, Ephraim, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Southern Utah University, Cedar City. She also has earned 60 hours above her master’s degree and holds mathematics and English-as-a-second-language endorsements. She further serves her community through school-related athletic programs and events, as well as 4-H, Scouting, the Relief Society and the Young Women’s Program. As a member of the South Sanpete English Curriculum Council, Hansen received a $1,500 Artist in Residency grant for Gunnison Elementary to provide a professional artist in the classroom. She also wrote a $7,670 technology grant, which resulted in the purchase of classroom computers, cameras and video equipment. Hansen has volunteered with the U.S. Forest Service and is a past recipient of the Arch Coal Golden Apple Achiever award.

The Arch Coal Foundation’s teacher recognition program is available to classroom teachers in Carbon, Emery, Sanpete and Sevier counties. The counties surround the Skyline, Dugout Canyon and Sufco mines operated by Canyon Fuel Company, a subsidiary of major U.S. coal producer Arch Coal, Inc. Each recipient receives a distinctive trophy, a classroom plaque and a $3,500 personal, cash award.

Partners for the program include the Office of the Governor, Utah State Office of Education, Utah Education Association, Utah School Superintendents Association, Carbon County School District, Emery County School District, Sevier County School District, North Sanpete School District, South Sanpete School District, Far West Bank, Market Express, radio stations KMTI, KLGL, KMGR, KSVC, KCYQ, KOAL, KARB, KRPX, and both TacoTime and Bookcliff Sales in Price.

Arch’s Canyon Fuel Company is Utah’s largest coal producer and a large, state employer, with a workforce of more than 800. U.S.-based Arch Coal, Inc. (NYSE:ACI) is one of the world’s largest and most efficient coal producers, 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.

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