Fairmont Sr. High School’s Adams Receives Arch Coal Achievement Award

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (March 8, 2011) – Mary K. Adams believes teaching is the most important occupation one can have. “Instilling the significance of learning in young people fosters the essence of our future, and our students are inextricably molded by the education they receive,” notes the 29-year teaching veteran.

“This might sound corny, but I love being a teacher,” she adds. “I could not have chosen another profession that would give me as much satisfaction. My students are fantastic, and they empower me to be the best teacher I can be.”

Today Adams learned the extent of such empowerment. She became one of 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.

“Mary K. Adams believes all students have the right to receive the best education our country can offer, and to ensure that right, her teaching philosophy revolves around three R’s – respect, research and reflection,” notes Leer. “She encourages mutual trust and respect in her classroom, making it a place where students feel safe to openly express their opinions and questions.”

Adams, who resides in Fairmont, teaches English courses at Fairmont Senior High School. “The most important thing I do for my students is provide opportunities for them to become independent, critical thinkers, who are proud of their educational accomplishments,” she says. “Getting to know my students both as individuals and academically, I believe they all learn in different, distinct ways, and I incorporate multiple ways of teaching in my classroom every day.”

“It goes without saying that Mary is an excellent teacher,” notes Linda Pinnell, Fairmont English Department chairperson. “What distinctly sets her apart is her willingness to do the extra work that will benefit everyone. She has written three major grants that have benefitted the entire school. Not only has she taken the time to apply for the grants, she has made the equipment accessible to all. Mary’s dedication and unselfishness have made her a real asset to our faculty.”

Adams earned a bachelor’s degree at Fairmont State and a master’s degree at West Virginia University. She has achieved National Board Certification and is part of a Marion County cadre of seven teachers that mentors others in the NBC process. After taking a course in grant writing, Adams was able to obtain approximately $300,000 for her school. Adams obtained a grant that enabled her to set up a free summer technology camp for middle school students and has offered technology classes for parents. She has served as a class sponsor and worked with students and parents to raise funds for the junior prom. Adams formed the school’s first after-school Book Lovers Club, for which she and the students created a blog for electronic discussion of novels.

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.