Gunnison Valley High School’s Lyons Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

GUNNISON, Utah (May 8, 2013) – As Mark Lyons awaited his entrance cue at the 1991 Utah Shakespearian Festival, the names of several past teachers passed through his mind: Mr. Williams, Mrs. Barnes, Mr. Sessions, Mr. Frost. “Out of the blue, I remembered the great teachers who had influenced me,” he said. “I knew then that I should offer to others the same seminal gift of service and respect I had received.

“What do I offer students?” Lyons continued. “Perhaps the most important principle I model is the productive, real-life process I call ‘falling up.’ Students see me make plans, take risks, fail and then admit my mistakes. I demonstrate appropriate correction of errors as essential steps in the achievement process. What more useful lesson can we practice together?”

As a result of his ability to inspire his students, Lyons 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.”

Lyons teaches English and drama at Gunnison Valley High School. He has 19 years of teaching experience. “I believe there are much more important things happening in students’ lives than participation in my classes or plays,” Lyons said. “My instruction is most valuable if I can give students the practical tools – and the experience using them – that can help them achieve personal as well as academic success. My philosophy of education is that learning to use language in my class must improve students’ lives.”

“Mark is the kind of teacher you hope your children will have, especially if they lack confidence,” said JoLyn Chappell, Gunnison Valley High School language arts teacher. “He has a way of loving students and accepting them for their own uniqueness. His optimism and ‘can-do’ attitude are contagious.”

Lyons earned a bachelor of arts degree from Brigham Young University in Provo, and a master of education degree from the University of Phoenix in Provo. He has directed 37 plays during his tenure at the high school, training his students in both stage management and the technical aspects of stage production. He and his students produce the annual Halloween “Spook Alley” for the elementary school Halloween carnival. He is the assistant director of the annual Mormon Miracle Pageant in Manti, and he founded “The Hog Wallow Players,” Gunnison’s community theater group. Lyons serves on the Casino-Star Theatre board, which aids in restoration of the historic theater. He is a Cub Scout master and teaches the cub master class. Lyons and his students frequently entertain a number of community groups, such as the Gunnison Valley Senior Citizens, Lions Club, the Adult Singles and patients at the Community Care Center.

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