Education

University of Wyoming Lab School’s Walker Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Cheyenne, Wyo. (May 1, 2013) – Jamie Walker did not have to think very hard about her choice of career. “The decision to pursue a career in teaching was one that came to me as naturally as the changing seasons,” she said. “From an early age, my mother, a Head Start teacher for 17 years, instilled in me the magic of teaching and learning. It did not take long for me to realize that I wanted to follow in her footsteps. It seemed only natural that teaching was the right career choice for me.

“Each day, when children enter the classroom full of hope and curiosity, and ready and eager to learn something new, I am reminded they are the reason that I chose this path,” she continued. “There is nothing more rewarding and motivating than the smile that comes over a child’s face when he or she finally grasps a difficult concept. It is these moments when I can see the genuine love of learning and the desire to keep learning that motivate me to continue teaching every day.”

As a result of her ability to inspire her students, Walker received statewide recognition today. She 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.”

Walker teaches second- and third-grade students at the University of Wyoming Lab School in Laramie. She has seven years of teaching experience. “I believe that children are natural-born learners who are already engaged in making sense of the world around them,” she said. “My responsibility as a teacher is to encourage this natural engagement and to challenge my students to delve deeper. The first step in encouraging a child’s natural curiosity is to create positive relationships between the students and me, between the students themselves, and between the parents and me. If a child does not feel valued or safe within a classroom, learning cannot take place.”

“In a school full of exceptional teachers, Ms. Walker stands out,” said Dr. Heather Rothfuss, a University of Wyoming research scientist whose son is one of Walker’s students. “Jamie is thoroughly loved and respected by her students – they listen, learn and behave because they want to please her. In return, she respects and adores them. They feel loved, comfortable and safe. Jamie creates an environment where her respect for the children’s thoughts and ideas transfers to their respect for each other, where learning is a fun adventure, and where questions and curiosity are always encouraged and rewarded.

Walker holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and she is working on a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. She also has completed the coursework to earn a kindergarten through sixth-grade reading endorsement. Each year Walker and her students participate in at least two community service projects. Past projects included collecting and donating nearly 1,200 books to a needy third-grade class and raising $150 for Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

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 archteacherawards.com.

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 archcoal.com.