Sherrard Middle School’s Burke Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Charleston, W. Va. (March 28, 2013) – As a 5-year-old student, Cynthia Burke was quite surprised to discover that her first school year had come to an end. “I enjoyed my learning experiences, and, as a result, probably always knew that I would be a life-long learner and a teacher,” she said. “I continue my work in the classroom because I enjoy helping my students develop their own love of learning and appreciation of their successes in first struggling with — and then mastering — concepts they believe beyond their abilities.  

“I want them to appreciate the skills and knowledge that they master, as well as the effort involved,” Burke continued. “I believe my role is to foster in my students the belief that they can be successful in any academic or career path of their choice and develop their abilities to address challenges that will occur along these pathways.”  

As a result of her ability to help her students succeed, Burke received statewide recognition today. She was one of only 12 teachers to receive a 2013 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. John W. Eaves, Arch Coal’s president and chief executive officer, made the announcement during a ceremony at the Clay Center in Charleston. He was accompanied by West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) President Dale Lee. This is the 25th year the awards have been presented in West Virginia, and it is the longest-running privately funded teacher recognition program in the state.  

“Arch Coal is honored to recognize all 12 West Virginia winners of this year’s Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards,” Eaves said. “Educators are the foundation of a strong, successful state, and we’re proud to have supported a generation of great teachers with this longstanding award.”  

Burke teaches mathematics to seventh- and eighth-grade students at Sherrard Middle School in Wheeling. She has 36 years of teaching experience. “The ability to struggle with and master mathematical concepts is vital for all students,” said Burke. “In creating a learning environment where both successes and failures serve as learning opportunities, I want my students to internalize the need to persevere in the face of adversity.”  

“Cynthia’s dedication to student learning and achievement goes beyond her classroom of middle school students,” said Bonnie Ritz, coordinator of the Master’s in Education Leadership at Wheeling Jesuit University. “She actively provides workshop and training sessions for colleagues across the state and serves as an adjunct instructor in the master’s program at Wheeling Jesuit University. Many teachers have taken on the challenge of completing National Board Certification or earning a master’s degree because of Cynthia’s encouragement, assistance and persistence.”  

Burke earned a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from Wheeling Jesuit University, and a master of arts in mathematics from West Virginia University. She is a National Board Certified teacher. She also has served for seven years as a staff member of the West Virginia Department of Education’s Teachers Leadership Institute, and has presented at numerous county and state math conferences throughout the state. Burke has authored 10 national publications presenting math instructional guides, units, performance tasks and Project Based Learning lessons. As a member of the state Instructional Materials Advisory Committee, Burke is responsible for reviewing classroom materials and making recommendations to the state Board of Education. She previously was named Mathematics Teacher of the Year by her peers and received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching in 2009. Burke also is active in the after-school tutoring program and is on her school’s Curriculum Committee.  

Each Teacher Achievement Award recipient receives a distinctive trophy, a classroom plaque and a $3,500 personal cash award. 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. 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 West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Education Association and the West Virginia Library Commission are longstanding supporters of the program.  

The Arch Coal Foundation also supports teacher-recognition or grants programs in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado, as well as a number of other education-related causes.  

Information about each of today’s 12 recipients, as well as past recipients, is posted at  

St. Louis-based Arch Coal, Inc. (NYSE:ACI) is one of the world’s top coal producers for the global steel and power generation industries, serving customers in 25 countries on five continents. Its network of mining complexes is the most diversified in the United States, spanning every major coal basin in the nation. In West Virginia, Arch Coal subsidiaries employ about 1,800 people. Arch Coal and the Arch Coal Foundation have a long history of supporting educational and community causes in West Virginia. For more information, visit