North Marion High School’s Baxter Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Charleston, W. Va. (March 5, 2012) – While enrolled in graduate school at West Virginia University, Dr. Teresa Baxter had an opportunity to teach college Spanish. “From the beginning, I enjoyed being in the classroom. I realized that teaching was my passion and decided to obtain my certification to teach Spanish in the public schools,” recalls Baxter, a Lima, Peru, native. 

“I have taught in the public schools for almost 13 years, and I love it because I have the opportunity to shape the lives of the next generation, a responsibility I take very seriously,” Baxter adds. “I feel honored to teach my native language and culture to American high school students.”              

Today it was Baxter who was honored – for her passion and dedication to her students. She 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 at 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.              

“Teresa Baxter believes every student can do well in Spanish, with the appropriate help and support,” says Leer. “She teaches persistence, knowing that if students persist, they will succeed.”

With 18 years as an educator, Baxter teaches Spanish at North Marion High School, Farmington. She often learns what is exciting for her students’ age group and then incorporates pop culture into her lessons to help them feel connected – such as singing in Spanish to karaoke songs on YouTube. “I try to include various learning styles by giving projects where students can demonstrate their talents,” Baxter says. “I provide activities for the artistic, the visual and the auditory learners, the kinesthetic, the writers, the readers, the musicians. I believe that if given the opportunity, students will excel.”           

“I can’t even count the immense number of things Dr. Baxter has taught me,” says North Marion student Hannah Haller. “From my time with her, I have learned more than just Spanish. I have learned to push myself and to eliminate the unnecessary items from life in order to conquer my dreams in and out of the classroom,” she adds. “Learning many languages and traveling the world are two aspirations of mine that she has helped me find the confidence to pursue.”

Baxter earned a bachelor’s degree at Fairmont State and her master’s and doctorate degrees, as well as W.Va. certification in Spanish, at West Virginia University. Baxter also has achieved National Board Certification. An advocate of lifelong learning, she has continued her education as a participant and presenter at the Northeast Conference on Teaching Foreign Languages (NECTFL) and the West Virginia Foreign Languages (WVFLTA) conference, both of which she has attended for many years. Baxter also has attended the national American Council on Teaching Foreign Languages Conference (ACTFL). She continues to update her technology skills through seminars and other learning opportunities, and she traveled to Texas last year for training in Project Based Learning (PBL). Baxter served as editor for Spanish activity books authored by a retired professor from The Ohio State University. She is a recipient of Outstanding Teacher and Teaching Excellence awards.

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).