Wheatland Middle School’s Franke Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Cheyenne, Wyo. (May 1, 2013) – Charles Franke discovered his own love for teaching as he met great teachers along the way. “Recalling them is why I chose teaching as a profession, and it helps me take heart in teaching,” he said.

“Helping my students bridge the gap between the academic text and their lives, and having a strategic approach for doing so, motivates me greatly,” he continued. “Ensuring that learning takes place is the most important thing I do for my students.”

As a result of Franke’s ability to “bridge the gap,” he received statewide recognition today. He was one of only 10 teachers to receive a 2013 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. John W. Eaves, Arch Coal president and chief executive officer, made the announcement during a presentation ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda. He was accompanied by Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, First Lady Carol Mead and Wyoming Education Association Treasurer Jon VanOverbeke. This is the 13th year the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards have been presented in Wyoming.

“Arch Coal is honored to recognize the winners of this year’s Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards in Wyoming,” Eaves said. “Great educators help build great states. Judging from the knowledge, skill and passion exhibited by this year’s recipients, we believe Wyoming has a bright future ahead.”

Franke teaches sixth- and eighth-grade reading and social studies at Wheatland Middle School. He has 16 years of teaching experience. Franke said he believes in building relationships, connections and community in his classroom. “The classroom should be inviting for individual student voices as well as the voice of the group,” he said. “Every student has strengths, and developing curriculum that targets those strengths and exposes individual learning styles is one of the most important aspects of teaching.”

“I have known Mr. Franke since I was in the seventh grade in 2000,” said Amy Jo Heatherly, a social studies teacher at Elizabeth High School in Chugwater, Wyo. “He was my first U.S. history teacher and happened to change the course of my life forever. Each day he challenged me in the classroom to perform to my maximum potential, yet continued to build a positive environment for me to thrive academically. The passion and humor he displayed in the classroom and with social studies content inspired me. I followed a career path into the world of education, and I thank Mr. Franke each time a student of mine succeeds.”

Franke earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Black Hills State University in Spearfish, S.D., and a master’s degree in education from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. He serves as athletic director and is the eighth-grade core leader at Wheatland Middle School. He also is the building representative to the Parent Teacher Organization. Franke is president-elect for the Platte County Education Association and the co-chair of the school district’s Technology Equipment/Resource Request Process and Roles Program. He has been recognized in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and by the Junior National Young Leader’s Conference for teaching and mentoring. His lesson plans on the importance of Wyoming’s energy resources were published by the Wyoming Geographic Association in National Geographic. He also works with the University of Wyoming as a leader in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Franke coaches Little League and Babe Ruth baseball and also runs an archery club for students.

Each Teacher Achievement Award recipient receives a distinctive trophy, a classroom plaque and a $3,500 personal cash award. Nominations for the award 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 teacher recognition awards are underwritten by the Arch Coal Foundation. Longstanding supporters of the program are the Wyoming Department of Education, the Wyoming Education Association, the Wyoming library community, Taco John’s and Loaf ‘N Jug stores.

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

Information about each of the award 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. Arch Coal’s Wyoming operations – Thunder Basin Coal Company’s Black Thunder and Coal Creek mines and Arch of Wyoming – have a combined workforce of about 1,750. Arch Coal and the Arch Coal Foundation have a long history of supporting educational and community causes in Wyoming. For more information, visit