North Sevier High School’s Peterson Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

GUNNISON, Utah (May 8, 2013) – Kelly Peterson began his professional life as a research scientist for a biotechnology company, but a change in circumstances led Peterson on a different path. “As I considered my options, things led me to select teaching as a profession,” he said. “First, I have always had a passion for science. Second, what would be better than sharing that passion with others, especially young people?

“Today, that passion still exists,” he continued. “Science is more than learning and memorizing facts, than using a book to define vocabulary or to fill in blank answers on a worksheet. I believe application and teamwork build and strengthen a student for the future. I see them gain confidence in their abilities and an understanding that being wrong is a part of life. They become aware that they can develop the character to face a problem, and with careful thought and determination achieve a solution.”

As a result of his ability to build confidence in his students, Peterson received recognition today. He was one of only five teachers to receive a 2013 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Paul Lang, Arch Coal executive vice president and chief operating officer, made the announcement during a ceremony at Gunnison Valley High School. He was accompanied by Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert and Utah Education Association President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh. This is the seventh year the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards have been presented to teachers from Utah’s Carbon, Emery, Sanpete and Sevier counties, which surround the Sufco, Dugout Canyon and Skyline mines operated by Canyon Fuel Company LLC, a subsidiary of Arch Coal.

“Arch Coal is proud to recognize the recipients of this year’s Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards,” Lang said. “These educators challenge and inspire our children to explore and to dream. They are passionate about their jobs and generously share their abilities with their communities, and they lead by example to help children succeed.”

Peterson teaches science at North Sevier High School in Salina. He has seven years of teaching experience. “My teaching philosophy revolves around the idea that every person can learn, enjoy and engage in science, but I avoid the assumption that every student will develop my same passion for science,” Peterson said. “I teach with the aspiration that every student can develop scientific skills, such as observation, not feeling intimidated, having a willingness to think critically, asking questions and then pursuing the answer.”

“Kelly Peterson’s dedication, integrity and assertiveness have led to positive changes in the science department at North Sevier High School,” said Myron Mickelsen, superintendent of schools for the Sevier County School District. “I have been particularly impressed by his skill in motivating students to engage themselves completely in the learning goals and activities. Kelly has established a very non-threatening, productive atmosphere, so students are relaxed and willing to participate in the instructional practices in a positive way.”

Peterson earned an associate of science degree from Snow College in Ephraim, and bachelor of science and master of science degrees from Utah State University in Logan. He has completed a number of continuing education courses in botany, astronomy, physics and ecology, as well as on topics such as creating a learning environment, special education, literacy strategies, and assessment and planning. He most recently attended the Reading Apprenticeship Improving Secondary Education Institute. He is a member of the National Science Teachers Association. Petersen is the National Honor Society Adviser at North Sevier High School. The group routinely performs community service projects including highway cleanups, yard work for the elderly, and toy and blanket collections for Primary Children’s Hospital. He is a member of the Salina Riding Club, which produces the annual Fourth of July rodeo, and an officer of the Willow Creek Irrigation Company, which delivers irrigation water to the farmers in the Axtell community.

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 Utah State Office of Education, Utah Education Association, Utah School Superintendents Association, Carbon County School District, Emery County School District, Sevier County School District, North Sanpete School District, South Sanpete School District, AmericanWest Bank, radio stations KMTI, KLGL, KMGR, KSVC, KWUT, KOAL, KARB, KRPX, and Market Express, TacoTime and Bookcliff Sales in Price.

The Arch Coal Foundation also supports teacher recognition and grants programs in Wyoming, West Virginia 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 Canyon Fuel Company is Utah’s largest coal producer, with a workforce of more than 700. Arch Coal and the Arch Coal Foundation have a long history of supporting educational and community causes in Utah. For more information, visit