Education

Morgantown High School’s Gibson Receives Arch Coal Achievement Award

Charleston, W. Va. (March 5, 2012) –Bill Gibson became a teacher in his 40s, after spending 25 years working in the construction industry. “My mother had gone to college later in life to become a teacher and was passionate about the profession; she inspired me to reach out to young people through the field of education,” he recalls. “In particular, I have a strong desire to help students build confidence and achieve success in the fields of mathematics, science and engineering, because many people avoid careers involving these subjects.

“For these reasons, I have worked hard to develop programs that encourage all students to take upper level math, science and engineering classes in order to show them by example that they have the ability to achieve their goals even though the content is difficult,” Gibson says.

Today Gibson achieved a prestigious goal, despite some tough competition. He was among only 12 teachers statewide to receive a 2012 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Steven F. Leer, Arch Coal chairman and chief executive officer, made the announcement during an awards ceremony at the Clay Center. He was accompanied by West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) President Dale Lee.

“Bill Gibson’s greatest strength as a teacher is that he comes to the job armed with the ability and confidence to understand the content of what he teaches and its application to real-world problems,” says Leer. “After working as a contractor for many years, he is keenly aware of the importance of being able to apply what you learn.”

A 14-year teaching veteran, Gibson teaches AP calculus BC, AP computer science, AP physics and engineering 101/102 courses at Morgantown High School. “I am having a lot of fun in my teaching career, and it flows out of my personal philosophy on teaching,” he says. “It is couched in the truism that all children can learn – it is my belief that all children can learn even complicated subjects, such as calculus and physics – coupled with the reality that we only pay attention to that which captures our interest. I see my role as a key figure in students’ lives, with the primary responsibility to help them discover the things that fire them up and suggest ways in which the content I teach relates to their interests.”

Gibson earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at West Virginia University. He is a nationally board-certified teacher of mathematics and has mentored four other teachers in the certification process. He continues his professional development through training sessions, conferences, seminars and workshops. Gibson serves as his school’s technology coordinator, and he has designed and taught math and computer science courses for the West Virginia Governor’s Honors Academy and the West Virginia Governor’s School for Math and Science. This year, he was asked to direct the middle school program, which will involve selecting teachers throughout the state to design courses that allow students to explore and extend their math and science knowledge in the area of underwater exploration. Gibson was a finalist for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Teacher Astronaut Program and is now among a group of teachers – the Network of Educator Astronaut Teachers (NEAT), acting in resonance with and on behalf of the United States space program. Gibson has further supported his community through involvement in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and as an advocate for children in the court system. He started and sponsored the school’s Habitat for Humanity Club, and he created the Morgantown High School Robotics Team.

In addition to recognition, Teacher Achievement 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.

U.S.-based Arch Coal, Inc. (NYSE:ACI) is a top five global coal producer and marketer, and the most diversified American coal company, with  mining complexes across every major U.S. coal supply basin. In 2011, Arch continued to lead the U.S. coal industry in safety performance and environmental compliance among large, diversified producers. In West Virginia, Arch Coal subsidiaries operate mining complexes at Beckley; Buckhannon (Imperial); Cowen (Eastern); Grafton (Tygart); Holden (Coal-Mac); Morgantown (Patriot); Philippi (Sentinel); and Sharples (Mountain Laurel).