U.W. Lab School’s Williams Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (April 13, 2011) – Theresa Williams began her professional life as a wildlife and fisheries biologist, and she later became a laboratory chemist. “I loved my 16 years as a scientist – I loved outdoor work, and I loved searching for solutions to problems through lab work,” recalls the 11-year teaching veteran.

“Although I felt the work I was doing was important, I wanted a more meaningful career,” she adds. “I wanted to teach so I could positively impact the quality of science learning for future scientists and decision-makers. I chose to teach middle school students because I truly enjoy being around them. They have an energy and enthusiasm for life and an interest in and excitement about learning that makes teaching them very rewarding.”

Today Williams discovered yet another reward from being around middle school students. She was one of only 10 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 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.

“Theresa Williams believes every child deserves a secure, caring and stimulating environment in which to grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically and socially,” says Leer. “She helps students reach their potential in these areas by providing a safe learning space and creating lessons that are interesting and engaging, with content that is meaningful and tasks that are appropriately challenging.”

Williams teaches math and science to sixth- through ninth-grade students at the U.W. Lab School in Laramie. “The most important thing I do for students is make them feel comfortable and safe, so they are free to ask about what they don’t understand,” she says. “I also help them to feel confident that I know what I’m talking about so they trust me to answer their questions honestly. I hope to inspire students to understand and appreciate nature and how the world works and to be responsible for their choices as individuals and as members of society,” she adds. “I enjoy helping kids understand difficult ideas and helping them find out what they don’t already know.”

Williams earned two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree at the University of Wyoming. She also has achieved National Board Certification. Williams continues her professional development through training, workshops and classes, such as Counting On, Coordinated Resource Management (CRM), the Summer Energy Institute, Inquiry-Based Learning and more. For many years, Williams acted as an educational consultant with the University of Wyoming’s Science Posse outreach program. She further supports her community through involvement in a wide range of volunteer initiatives, from organizing and creating a community vegetable garden and establishing a food co-op to presenting workshops at the Laramie Food Fair and donating to breast-cancer research. She inspires her students to perform community service as well.

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