Encampment K-12 School’s Kraft Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Cheyenne, Wyo. (May 1, 2013) – Pamela Kraft has an abiding passion for art and for life. That, plus a belief that an artistic foundation is essential for students to develop as expressive, critical thinkers, led her to the teaching profession. “Driven by my own artistic and educational experiences, I can’t wait to share my excitement about an artist, technique or new idea with my students,” she said. “For this reason, my curriculum sometimes extends beyond my classroom and travels through other disciplines and locations.

“I teach a rigorous, fundamental art program from the time my students enter my classroom,” she continued. “The key to self-expression is first having the artistic tools necessary for that voice. I then design assignments with an emphasis on self-expression and multiple ways to arrive at a solution. Art lends itself well to addressing individual needs and different learning styles.”

As a result of her passion for helping students find their artistic voices, Kraft 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.”

Kraft teaches art to first- through 12th-grade students at Encampment K-12 School. She has 32 years of teaching experience. “I believe that my art classroom offers a unique and inviting oasis to my students,” she said. “Arts involve the whole student, integrating the head, heart and hands. I encourage imagination while working to develop critical thinking skills. Art takes my kids past casual observation and encourages deeper looking and seeing. I encourage students to examine their own rich cultural heritage and to open themselves to the diversity in our world.”

“Pam Kraft was my art teacher for all of my K-12 education,” said Katie Christensen, director of the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts in Saratoga, Wyo. “She helped me establish a strong foundation in the visual arts and encouraged me to continue a college-level pursuit of the arts. In addition to visual arts, Pam also exposed us to new music, technology and culture from around the globe. Her classroom opened up the world to me and many other students.”

Kraft holds a bachelor of fine arts degree with high honor from Michigan State University in Ann Arbor. She was named a Milken National Educator in 1997 and the Wyoming Art Educator of the Year in 1994, and she received the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Power of Art Award in 2007. She was a Fulbright Memorial Scholar in 1999, was honored as Outstanding Art Educator by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition in 1993, and was one of 75 educators selected from more than 4,000 for the Visions of America Conference in 2010. She served as a delegate to the National Art Education Association National Assembly from 1991 to 1993, and was a member of the program approval on-site visitation team for the Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board. She also has served as president of the Wyoming Secondary Art Educators Association and as a grant reader for the Wyoming Arts Council. She is a member of the Platte Valley Arts Council.

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

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