South High School’s Smith Receives Arch Coal Achievement Award

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (April 13, 2012) – Tascha Marie Smith’s decision to teach was easy. Determining what to teach, however, was not. “Practicality led me to English, which combines things I love – history, art, literature and writing,” says Smith.

“I continue teaching because I think I make a difference in the lives of kids. I also continue because I love discovering new things for or with my students; new stories, new poems, new technology,” Smith adds. “I keep teaching because I have more to learn and more to teach others.”

Today Smith made yet another discovery to share with her students. She now ranks among the top teachers in the state. 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.

“Respect is a vital part of Tascha Smith’s teaching philosophy; mutual respect between her and her students,” says Leer. “She focuses on teaching her students to be good people while teaching them to write a solid essay at the same time.”

With nearly 10 years of experience, Smith teaches English at South High School, Cheyenne. “I try to make everything I do for or with my students important. I value them as individuals and show it by knowing who they are and what they’re interested in,” says Smith. “I show students trust and respect by talking to them the way I would like for them to talk to me. I model best behaviors and set high standards, both in how we treat each other and the work we do.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree and certification in Language Arts Secondary Education at the University of Wyoming and a master’s degree at Lesley University. She also has achieved certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and she recently underwent training to help others in the certification process. Smith continues her development through educational conferences and conventions nationwide, including the National Council for Teachers of English National Convention; the International Reading Association Conference; Brain-Based Learning; and North West Regional Lab’s training for 6 Traits of Writing. She also has attended two Advanced Placement Institutes. Within the community, Smith participates in a range of volunteer initiatives involving her church, the local theatre and extracurricular education projects and programs.

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.