Chapmanville Middle School’s Mahon Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Charleston, W. Va. (March 28, 2013) – A love of literature and the beauty of the written language initially drew Deidra L. Mahon to the teaching profession. But that is not what kept her there. “Make no mistake. It is still thrilling to me when we read Annabel Lee in class and my students have that moment of magic when I see that they make a real connection to the emotions of another through the poem,” Mahon said. “Throughout the years, though, I have come to realize that I teach because I want to use my ability to make a connection with people to do some good in the world, even if it is only in a small way through my personal connection with my students.  

“Possibly the most important thing that I do for my students is to help them understand that they can succeed, not because of what they were born with or without, but that through hard work they can make a valuable contribution to society, and that they each have something valuable to give,” Mahon continued. “It is this simple quest that motivates me to continue … to try to help students realize their own self-worth, to know that they each are important and able and gifted.”  

As a result of her ability to connect with her students, Mahon 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.”  

Mahon teaches English language arts to seventh-grade students at Chapmanville Middle School in Chapmanville. She has 24 years of teaching experience. “Although teaching has its challenges …I remember that I might be the only adult who takes the time to compliment a child or show her that what she has to say means something, or how she feels is important. This is my strength — that I can find the essence of the child and try to connect with him or her. In those times, I remind myself that I do not teach because I want my students to have the best test scores or win the most contests, although that is a nice bonus when they do. I teach because I believe that each child has a gift, and I want to help them to see that I believe in them and that they should believe in themselves.”  

“Deidra Mahon is a committed teacher who serves our county well,” said Ernest Amburgey Jr., assistant superintendent of Logan County Schools. “Her former students, including two of my sons, brag about how well they have done in college because of what they have learned from her class. It is this recognition and their success that drive Ms. Mahon to be an exceptional teacher.”  

Mahon earned a bachelor of arts in language arts, math and algebra education, a master of arts in English literature, and a certification as a library media specialist from Marshall University. She also has accumulated more than 45 graduate hours from Marshall. Mahon is involved with the National Writing Project, the West Virginia Writing Project and the Coalfield Writers Group. Her students have won numerous West Virginia Young Writers contests at both the county and state level. She is an adjunct member of the faculty at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College and often serves as a judge for the West Virginia Young Writers contest.  

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