Education

Rock Springs Junior High’s Stevens Receives Arch Coal Achievement Award

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (April 13, 2012) – Jo ann Stevens has been teaching instrumental music at various levels for the past 23 years. She continues to teach, but not for pay or recognition. It's because she is rewarded every day in some small way, according to Stevens.

“Whether it be the moment a student can finally play that difficult passage without mistakes, the email I get from a parent thanking me, or the request for a letter of recommendation from a former student who wants to major in music, the gratification I get from knowing I am making a difference in some child’s life is priceless,” she adds.

Stevens’ daily reward came in the form of recognition today, but there was no “small way” about it. Today, she was one of only 10 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 a ceremony at South High School in Cheyenne. Leer was accompanied by Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, Senator Mike Enzi, Representative Cynthia M. Lummis, and Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill. This is the 12th year the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards have been made in Wyoming.

“Jo ann Stevens believes in setting goals and having high expectations and that all students can meet those expectations if they believe in the goals,” says Leer. “She will not settle for an average performance if she knows students can do better.”

Stevens teaches band and guitar for seventh- and eighth-grade students at Rock Springs Junior High. “The most important thing I can ever do for my students is to be a good role model for them, both as a musician and as a human being,” says Stevens.

“I strive to instill in them a desire to do their best at whatever they are attempting,” she adds. “I set high expectations for both myself and for my students to develop skills they will need in order to succeed in life.”

Stevens earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Wyoming and has achieved National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification. She continues her professional development through conferences and workshops and by observing excellent teachers. Stevens is a member of the National Association for Music Education and has served as membership chair for the Wyoming Music Educators Association for seven years. She is secretary/treasurer for the Wyoming chapter of Phi Beta Mu, an international bandmasters fraternity. Stevens has served as a clinician and an adjudicator, and many of her groups of music students have received superior ratings at music festivals. Stevens has and continues to support her community through volunteer activities involving Boy Scouts of America, United Way, a community band, church initiatives and as director of the Board of Cooperative Educational Services Summer Band. Stevens also takes her jazz band and guitar classes to perform at elementary schools and a senior citizens center on occasion.

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.

The Wyoming Department of Education, the Wyoming Education Association, the Wyoming library community, Taco John’s and Loaf ‘N Jug stores are longstanding supporters of the program.

The Arch Coal Foundation also is a supporter of teacher-recognition 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 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. Arch’s Wyoming operations – Arch of Wyoming and Thunder Basin Coal Company’s Black Thunder and Coal Creek mines – have a combined workforce of more than 1,800.