Dixie Elementary School’s Valerie L. Mullins Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Charleston, W. Va. (March 31, 2014) – A love for band led Valerie L. Mullins to pursue a degree in music education. However, it was her time in the classroom that really convinced her to embrace teaching. “Actual experience in the classroom made me realize that I enjoyed teaching and was successful at it,” Mullins said. “Teaching music wasn’t my forte, but the regular education classroom felt like a world of endless possibilities, and I decided to pursue an elementary education degree.

“I am motivated to continue teaching because the field is constantly evolving and changing. This sustains the lifelong learner that I’ve become,” she continued. “Motivation also comes in the form of small children. My kids need a lot of emotional support to succeed in education, and education is the only thing that is going to change their humble circumstances. That single thought is part of what keeps me coming back.”

As a result of Mullins’ ability to motivate and support 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.”

Mullins teaches a split fourth- and fifth-grade class at Dixie Elementary in Dixie. She has 10 years of teaching experience. “My philosophy – in terms of how to approach teaching – is simple,” Mullins said. “Don’t only think outside the box, but make something out of the box! Too often teachers cling to the textbooks like a lifeline when there are so many rich resources just waiting to be tapped into. I think learning has got to be fun, creative and interesting. You can’t teach without love, patience and the belief that all children, no matter their abilities, have so much potential and so much to give.”

“Valerie Mullins has been an outstanding educator and supporter of children in this community,” said Monica S. Belmont, principal at Dixie Elementary. “She is the teacher they say is their ‘favorite.’ She is the teacher they come back to visit when they are grown. She fills a place in their hearts and minds that they always treasure.”

Mullins earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in education from Glenville State College and a Master of Arts degree from Marshall University, South Charleston campus. She also has received her National Board Certification, and is working on math certification via Project STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Mullins attended the Science and Social Studies summer institute in Morgantown on reading language arts/social studies integration and a conference on close reading to help improve her skills at teaching literacy. Her students have organized a “Scare Up Some Grub” community food drive for a local good pantry and participated in a “Scarves for Seniors” project. They also sent “Caring Cards” to the local nursing home and donated scarves to two additional nursing homes in Fayette and Webster counties. Mullins resides in Hughestown, W.Va.

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