Education

UW Lab School’s McLaughlin Receives Arch Coal Achievement Award

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (April 13, 2012) – Meredith McLaughlin knew she wanted to teach at age 9. “Not once in the last 30-plus years have I wavered,” she says. “True, I was raised by a teacher and a professor, but more important than their professions were their expectations for me.

“For as long as I can remember, I have known that I’ve been privileged with a nurturing and intellectually rich home environment and that my fundamental duty to humanity is to give back, every day,” says McLaughlin. “It is my debt to society, my service to my country, my obligation as a human. My gifts are in the classroom with young people, and therefore I serve by teaching.”

Today McLaughlin took time out from her service to receive some well-deserved recognition. 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.

“Meredith McLaughlin knows that teaching is hard work,” says Leer. “She also knows teaching is extremely valuable to humanity. From her perspective, there is no better job.”

A 17-year veteran educator, McLaughlin teaches English and social studies at the University of Wyoming Lab School. “We play a lot in my classroom, but we are very serious about our play,” says McLaughlin. “This approach is probably the best thing I do for students. These serious-play activities become the learning experiences my students remember years later.

“I feel compelled to report some quantitative measure of student progress to stakeholders, but I’m confident that the grade is not why students give up hours at home at night to finish the work that commenced in my classroom,” she adds. “They do it because I’ve chosen to see them as who they really are and not as data points. They do it because I love each of them like The Little Prince* loves his flower; like the most unique thing in the entire world.”

McLaughlin earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Beloit College in Wisconsin and an educational specialist degree at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. She has completed 60 credit hours of graduate work in education and is preparing to submit her portfolio on Take One for National Board. She attended multiple DuFours’ Professional Learning Community training sessions and is trained in Quantum Learning. McLaughlin facilitated implementation of a school-wide advisory program based on Breaking Ranks training. Due to participation in Wyoming’s Body of Evidence and state test scoring calibration sessions, she is a common-assessment designer and evaluator. McLaughlin has been the district’s Teacher of the Year and also has been deeply involved with her school’s membership in the League of Democratic Schools. This summer, she will volunteer as an English teacher in a small village school in Croatia, ultimately adding insights gained there to those already gleaned from schools in England, Jamaica and France. McLaughlin and her students also participate in a wide range of community-betterment programs, projects and initiatives.

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.