Mineral Wells Elementary’s Fletcher Earns Arch Coal Achievement Award

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (March 8, 2011) – With more than three decades’ teaching experience, William Norcott Fletcher says his students continue to motivate him, both in and out of the classroom. “I am eager to greet them every day because I know I have an enormous impact on and make a positive difference in their lives,” he notes. “I provide a warm, welcoming and consistent learning environment. As a result, the students manifest a desire to learn.

“I also realize I may be their main, surrogate guardian for the majority of their day,” he adds. “When my students volunteer to enter science and social studies fairs, prepare for math field days and spelling bees and put forth their best effort in the classroom, they inspire me to become a better teacher.”

Fletcher already ranks among West Virginia’s best. Today he 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.

“William Norcott Fletcher believes that to have a positive impact on students, a teacher must be sincere and possess a personality that exemplifies compassion for his profession, as well as a concern and respect for each student,” says Leer. “He believes teachers must be outstanding role models, with high moral character and values.”

Fletcher, a Mineral Wells resident, teaches fourth-grade students at Mineral Wells Elementary. “The most important thing I do for my students is give them my time and demonstrate that I care about them,” says Fletcher, who regularly devotes his lunch period toward helping students prepare for math field day and spelling bee events. Fletcher also has offered free summer school classes in math for about 10 years, and he provides opportunities for students to engage in the school’s Relay for Life fund-raising activities.

“I allow my students to be creative, think critically, demonstrate confidence and work as a team,” he adds. “My greatest strength in teaching is the love I have for my profession. I love to be in school every day with my students, and it’s conveyed through my demeanor, attitude and unique activities I make available to them. As a result, they enjoy school.”

Fletcher earned his bachelor’s degree at Glenville State College and a master’s degree at West Virginia University. He has served as president of the school’s Faculty Senate for two years and is a recipient of the Jan Dils/WTAP News Teacher of the Month Award. Fletcher has served as coordinator of the school’s Math Field Day activities for more than two decades. He also has assisted in regional math field days and taken part in school and county spelling bees. This year, he and students created and videotaped a puppet show to boost the morale of a classmate battling cancer. Fletcher has served as the school’s American Cancer Society Relay for Life chairman for four years, generating school and student involvement. The school has collected more than $50,000 toward the cause and last year delivered a check to the Wood County Chapter of the American Cancer Society for $23,500. It was the fifth consecutive year the school gave the largest donation in the county.

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.