Sherrard Middle School’s Rosetta L. Epifano Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Charleston, W. Va. (March 31, 2014) – Rosetta L. Epifano was only a sophomore in high school when she realized she was destined to become a teacher. “I was inspired by a very talented literature teacher who was quite skilled at proposing an essential line of questioning that required students to actively participate and contribute to the learning process,” she said. “This interaction between students and teacher made the challenges involved in learning fun and rewarding.”

Epifano has 38 years of experience as a full-time teacher. “I continue teaching because I still enjoy the challenge of these classroom interactions” she said. “My goal is to motivate my students to enjoy learning through the dynamics of teacher-to-student and student-to-student exchanges. Dynamic interactions in the classroom promote skills in critical thinking. I want my students to comprehend that true learning results when they accept a challenge, struggle and then triumph over a problem or learning difficulty.”

As a result of Epifano’s ability to challenge her students, she received statewide recognition today. She was one of only 12 teachers to receive a 2014 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. John W. Eaves, Arch Coal president and chief executive officer, made the announcement during a ceremony at the Clay Center in Charleston. He was accompanied by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) President Dale Lee. This is the 26th year the awards have been presented in West Virginia. It is the longest-running, privately funded teacher recognition program in the state.

“We’re honored to recognize the 12 outstanding West Virginia teachers who were selected as this year’s recipients of the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards,” Eaves said. “If a solid education is the foundation upon which an individual builds a successful life, then excellent teachers are the mortar that holds the foundation together. These 12 individuals are great examples of the many committed teachers who strive daily to educate our children and make West Virginia a stronger state.”

Epifano teaches art at Sherrard Middle School in Wheeling. “My most important role as a teacher is to increase critical and creative thinking across the curriculum,” she said. “It is important to create art lessons which require students to creatively integrate and apply the skills learned in other disciplines. I believe that through creating art, students learn to develop skills in ‘multifaceted thinking,’ which is the ability to focus on different aspects of a project and to integrate numerous subject areas simultaneously.”

“Rosetta is always willing to take on a challenge and push students to their fullest potential,” said Cassandra Porter, principal at Sherrard Middle School. “She is great at collaborating with other faculty members to make the students’ days productive and the lessons relative to real life. She is more than an art teacher. Rosetta is a natural leader in our school and never hesitates to take on a new project and grow with the students. It is apparent that she loves the children and cares about each of them.”

Epifano holds a bachelor’s degree in art education and a master’s degree in speech communication from West Virginia University in Morgantown. She has received additional training through numerous professional development classes in differentiated instruction, the Common Core Standards, Project-Based Learning, technology, cooperative learning, teaching and discipline strategies, and art workshops. She also has attended the week-long Teacher Leader Institute conducted by the West Virginia Department of Education. Epifano has completed additional training in oil painting from Robert Warren at the Art Loft in Canal Winchester, Ohio. Her personal art work has been exhibited in several area galleries including Art Works Gallery and Stifel’s Fine Art Museum, both in Wheeling. She also has been accepted into the Crosscurrents Art Exhibit, Oglebay Institute’s juried exhibit. Epifano is a past Teacher of the Year at Sherrard. In addition, she has developed and published lesson plans for the West Virginia Department of Education and the National Art Education Association. Her students regularly win local and regional art shows, and last year she and her students completed “The People and Places of Marshall County,” for the Marshall County Historical Society. Epifano wrote the text for the Marshall County coloring book, and her students illustrated the project.

Teachers are nominated by the public, and a blue-ribbon panel of past awards recipients selects the annual winners. Each Teacher Achievement Awards recipient is presented with 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, also presents a $1,000 cash award to each recipient’s school for use with at-risk students.

The Teacher Achievement Awards are underwritten by the Arch Coal Foundation and are supported in program promotion by the West Virginia Department of Education, the WVEA and the West Virginia Library Commission.

Arch Coal and the Arch Coal Foundation have a long history of supporting educational and community causes in West Virginia. The Arch Coal Foundation also supports teacher recognition or grants programs in Wyoming and Colorado, as well as a number of other education-related causes. Information about each of today’s 12 West Virginia recipients, as well as past 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 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 and its subsidiaries employ about 1,800 people. For more information, visit and