Education

Parkersburg South High School’s Whitlow Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Charleston, W. Va. (March 28, 2013) – Jayne Whitlow says her earliest — and fondest — memories involve teaching. “Following what I had seen in my father’s classroom, I assembled catalogs, pencils and papers to create my own,” she said. “I sang most of my lessons — an approach that my current students might find unusual — but nothing in my life has ever seemed more natural or self-fulfilling than teaching.  

“For me, school has always been a place of comfort and support, a place of success,” she continued. “My goal is to give my students that same sense of comfort and support, and to make them successful both inside and outside the classroom. ‘Nothing succeeds like success,’ is so very true, and I am humbled that my teaching leads them to that success.”  

As a result of helping her students to find success, Whitlow 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.”  

Whitlow teaches theater and fine arts to ninth- through 12th-grade students at Parkersburg South High School. She has 31 years of teaching experience. “There are few subjects more inherently valuable in teaching teamwork, critical thinking or self-confidence than theater,” Whitlow said. “One of the first lessons for my students is that the ensemble is more important than the individual. A play with a shining star and a rag-tag group of ‘others’ is not theater, for everyone on stage and back stage must work together. It is imperative that all performers support each other completely.”  

“Jayne Whitlow’s theater program is more than theater education,” said Lisa Tanner, a social worker for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services. “Her classes are therapeutic and teach students how to transcend their life circumstances and become who they want to become. She has a way of meshing her students so that they benefit mutually from one another.”  

Whitlow earned an undergraduate degree in education from Glenville State College and a master of arts degree from West Virginia University. She regularly participates in continuing education opportunities, including those offered by the Chautauqua Institution, the West Virginia Arts Teachers’ Institute and the Contemporary American Theater Workshop held at Shepherd University. Her students’ one-act plays have won at the West Virginia Thespian Festival three of the last five years, and a 2008 play was selected to represent West Virginia at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Neb. While teaching at Williamstown High School, Whitlow was named Outstanding Young Educator by the Jaycees and she received the Altrusa International of Parkersburg Professional Achievement Award in 2012. She is a member of the National Society of Arts and Letters and has served in many areas of lay leadership with her church. She is an active member of the King’s Daughters and Sons and has worked with the Chautauqua Scholars Program. Along with a student, she founded the Patriot Storehouse, a food and toiletry pantry for financially strapped students and their families, and conducts Thespian canned food drives to serve the community.  

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 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. 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 archcoal.com.