Union Elementary’s Oldaker Receives Arch Coal Achievement Award

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (March 8, 2011) – After 31 years in the classroom, Robin Oldaker still gets excited when she hears a struggling student exclaim, “I get it!” or listens to a child read their first book. “I am honored as former students graduate from high school or college, succeed at their jobs and allow me to share in their accomplishments,” she notes. “The highest praise that I have ever received is having former students request me as their child’s teacher – what an honor!”

After today’s announcement, Oldaker will likely hear more such requests. She was among only 12 West Virginia 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 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.

“Robin Oldaker believes children deserve an education that propels them into a quest for knowledge and understanding,” says Leer. “She says all children can achieve their goals when given appropriate instruction. Her job is to guide and enhance the materials in a manner that students will show achievement and mastery, not only in an academic environment, but in social endeavors as well.”

Oldaker teaches kindergarten students at Union Elementary School, Buckhannon. “Student engagement, persistence and satisfaction are indicators of my teaching methods,” she notes. “I will sing, dance, assume a persona or recreate the classroom in order to engage my students.

“My classroom is alive with hands-on engagement and group activity,” Buckhannon resident Oldaker adds. “Discipline is minimal or non-existent, as students are taught and learn classroom routines and expectations at the beginning of the school year.”

Oldaker earned a bachelor’s degree at West Virginia Wesleyan College and a master’s degree at West Virginia University. She also has achieved certification in the W.Va. Mentor Program. As part of her continuing professional development, Oldaker participates in bi-weekly Professional Learning Communities with an emphasis on problem-posing and problem-solving. She also participates in professional development at the county level and takes advantage of web-based training applications, such as Tech Steps, Discovery Education and Odyssey. Oldaker initiated the volunteer program at Union Elementary School more than 20 years ago, which is now 120 parents strong. She serves as a PTO officer and chairs the UES Scholarship Fund. Oldaker also initiated an after-school homework program, and she organized homework help by partnering with West Virginia Wesleyan College Bonner Scholars. She further supports her community through involvement in church-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.