Education

Fort Washakie School’s Levin Receives Arch Coal Achievement Award

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (April 13, 2012) – Robin Levin’s mother and grandmother didn’t have the education opportunities most girls have today. But that didn’t keep them from encouraging Levin to take advantage of such opportunities that came her way. “They rued their lack of formal education, urging me to study hard and do well; guidance I took to heart,” Levin recalls.

“As a teacher, I still go to school every day honoring my family’s wisdom and personal intellectual hunger,” Levin adds. “Perhaps my love of knowledge and of learning new concepts derives from a conviction that education is ongoing; continually revising one’s life.”

Today Levin experienced one such revision; a change that publicly acknowledged her ranking as a top Wyoming teacher. Levin 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.

“Robin Levin believes teachers must inspire students to venture beyond an obvious or singular approach to learning,” says Leer. “It’s clear Levin is a talented educator – she stretches students to be problem solvers for tomorrow’s challenges we can’t possibly anticipate today.”

With 31 years of experience, Levin serves as librarian as well as teacher of library and multi-cultural topics, language arts, technology and history to pre-K through 12th-grade students at the Fort Washakie School. She provides weekly instruction to 32 regularly scheduled half-hour classes and teaches special topics in the middle and high schools. “I strive to facilitate learning in all curricular areas with links to Native knowledge, here at a reservation school,” Levin notes. “The ever-evolving literacy skills for discovering accurate and inspiring knowledge have been in the librarian’s realm for millennia, but the theme is consistent: When given concrete and varied input to develop their mental, emotional and corporeal acuity, then the students teach themselves. This is the ideal.”

Levin earned a bachelor’s degree at State University of New York, New Paltz, and a master’s degree at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has earned an additional 50 graduate and countless professional-development credits focused on Native studies, evolving information technologies, indigenous science, multicultural and Holocaust studies. Levin continues her development through coursework and practical workshops in Native American education and teachings by Native elders. She participated on the National Science Foundation Rural Systemic Initiative Steering Committee and attended a Native Science Retreat at Camp Minto in Alaska. Levin is a Native Ways of Knowing professional-development organizer. Under her tutelage, the Fort Washakie School library received a North American Giant Step “best school library” grant and recognition in the National Endowment for the Humanities Picturing America Program. She is the recipient of Wyoming’s first and only Smithsonian Holocaust Teacher Fellowship. Levin co-produced a 42-lesson language curriculum on video and wrote/co-produced three DVD documentaries on Native education and culture used nationwide. She also coordinates a Reading is Fundamental Program for the Wind River Reservation community.

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.