Education

Richfield High School’s Johnson Receives Arch Coal Achievement Award

RICHFIELD, Utah (May 2, 2012) – After graduating as valedictorian of his high school class, Phillip D Johnson had no intention of continuing his education. “I attended a local technical school, earned a certificate in industrial electricity and entered the workforce for a year after graduating,” he notes.

During a church mission in Sao Paulo, Brazil, however, Johnson discovered his love for teaching. “I saw knowledge change lives and create new futures, and I knew I wanted a future in education,” he recalls. “After two years of foreign service, I began a bachelor’s program in math education at Brigham Young University (BYU), a choice I have never regretted. Yes, I could have chosen a more lucrative career, but I could not have chosen a more rewarding one.”

After 27 years in the teaching profession, Johnson continues to reap such rewards. Today he was among only five Utah area teachers to receive a 2012 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Arch Coal Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Office Paul Lang made the announcement at Red Hills Middle School in Richfield. He was accompanied by Utah Education Association Executive Director Mark Mickelsen. This is the sixth year the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards have been made in Utah.

“Phillip Johnson believes everyone can do math and do it well,” says Lang. “He continually reinforces this message by being available to students, providing prompt feedback and nurturing self-esteem.”

“Mr. Johnson was fresh out of college when he taught me two years of high school math, including calculus,” notes Mark Greenwood, M.D. “He knew math, how to teach it and how to make me want to learn it. As a result of his instruction, I and many other students at Richfield High took and passed the advanced placement examination in calculus and received college math credits. His influence for good in the lives of his students cannot be measured and will always be appreciated.

“Since moving back to Richfield, I had hoped that he would continue to teach long enough to teach my children,” adds Greenwood, whose daughter is now Johnson’s student. “I have not been disappointed as I observe the quality learning experience she has in his classroom.”

According to Johnson, in our global society it is what students do with their educational opportunities that will make the difference in their futures, according to Johnson, who continues to teach mathematics at Richfield High School. “For this reason, my philosophy of teaching math includes always trying to relate the subject to real-life situations,” he notes. “The skills and knowledge students learn by solving a math problem can extend to solving other problems or trials later in life.”

Johnson earned a certificate in industrial electricity at Sevier Valley Technical School, as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees at BYU. When no master’s degree program existed near Richfield, he worked through his school district to contact math teachers in his own and six surrounding districts, eventually gathering enough interest to bring a master’s degree program to Richfield. The effort enabled degree recipients to teach concurrent education classes and high school students to earn additional units of college math credit. Johnson also is an adjunct instructor at Snow College's Richfield campus.  He also serves as a table leader and reader for Advanced Placement calculus exams. He worked with the Utah State Office of Education to co-author core curriculum for geometry, algebra 2 and pre-calculus, and he continues to write curriculum for new common-core classes. Johnson has facilitated math workshops for teachers and will teach classes on implementing the Secondary Math 2 Core this summer. Johnson taught college courses enabling elementary teachers to achieve math credentials in the Sevier, Wayne and Sanpete districts and has been named a Secondary Math Teacher of the Year. He is the recipient of a grant used to put manipulatives in elementary classrooms throughout his district and further serves his community through a range of activities and programs.

The Arch Coal Foundation’s teacher recognition program is available to classroom teachers in Carbon, Emery, Sanpete and Sevier counties. The counties surround the Skyline, Dugout Canyon and Sufco mines operated by Canyon Fuel Company, a subsidiary of major U.S. coal producer Arch Coal, Inc. Each recipient receives a distinctive trophy, a classroom plaque and a $3,500 personal, cash award.

Partners for the program include the Office of the Governor, Utah State Office of Education, Utah Education Association, Utah School Superintendents Association, Carbon County School District, Emery County School District, Sevier County School District, North Sanpete School District, South Sanpete School District, Far West Bank, Market Express, radio stations KMTI, KLGL, KMGR, KSVC, KCYQ, KOAL, KARB, KRPX, and both TacoTime and Bookcliff Sales in Price.

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 more than 20 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 Canyon Fuel Company is Utah’s largest coal producer and a large, state employer, with a workforce of more than 750.