Education

Wildwood Middle School’s Carolyn Ruos Thomas Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Charleston, W. Va. (March 30, 2015) – “I chose teaching as a profession because it is a creative and demanding profession, which engages me with young people, professional colleagues and the community,” said Carolyn Ruos Thomas. “I am a second career teacher, and teaching is a way to make meaningful contributions to my community and state. I am motivated to teach by my lifelong love of learning and my passion for science.

“I am always seeking new and better ways to engage my students and connect their classroom learning with the opportunities and developments outside the classroom,” she continued. “The most important thing I do for students is provide an active and safe learning environment, which challenges them. I recognize the unique qualities of middle school students as they grow socially, emotionally and intellectually by developing hands-on interactive lessons and labs which connect students with ‘real world’ situations.”

As a result of Thomas’ ability to engage her students in creative learning, she received statewide recognition today. She was one of only 12 teachers to receive a 2015 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. John W. Eaves, Arch Coal’s 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 27th year the awards have been presented in West Virginia. It is the longest-running, privately funded teacher recognition program in the state.

“Teachers have long been revered for the role they play in a well-educated society, and we are especially honored today to recognize 12 outstanding West Virginians who were presented with a 2015 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award,” Eaves said. “The role of the classroom teacher is constantly evolving, requiring educators to continually adapt to new teaching methods, technologies and curriculum. These educators are excellent representatives of the many teachers who strive daily in the classroom to help improve the lives of West Virginia’s children. We applaud them for their unwavering dedication.”

Thomas teaches science to seventh- and eighth-grade students at Wildwood Middle School in Shenandoah Junction. She has seven years of teaching experience. “I sometimes refer to myself as an accidental teacher, having arrived at this profession later than most,” she said. “My teaching philosophy is that teaching opens doors for students by promoting awareness and building knowledge of the world beyond the classroom. Middle school science helps students develop a frame of mind to be able to ask and answer questions while being open to new discoveries and new possibilities, not only for themselves but also for society.”

“Last year, I had the pleasure and privilege of being in Mrs. Thomas’ seventh grade Honors class,” said student Olivia Pierce. “She is one of the best science teachers I have ever had and learning in her class was fun and productive. We learned a variety of things from the anatomy and habits of brook trout, to programming a robot, to learning about stars; things we would use not only in high school, but also in our future careers. Mrs. Thomas makes connections with us, her students, and provides us with wonderful out-of-school and out-of-class learning experiences. Mrs. Thomas is an inspiration to many of her students, and helps each and every one of us learn to love science.”

Thomas holds a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology/animal biology from the University of Maryland, College Park, a master’s degree in health and physical education/fitness from the University of Montana in Missoula, and a Master of Arts degree in education from Marshall University, Huntington. She also has her National Board Certification in early adolescent science and has participated in numerous professional development workshops on molecular biology, nuclear energy, materials engineering, watershed science, robotics and rocketry. Thomas won a Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Education, and received two $10,000 grants to build an extensive Trout in the Classroom partnership with Trout Unlimited and six other teachers in the Eastern panhandle of W.Va. Thomas is active in the Potomac Valley Audubon Society, Potomac-Mecklenburg Garden Club and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, and is involved with her students in a number of environmental service learning projects and activities. She resides in Shepherdstown, 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 archteacherawards.com.

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. The company controls more than 5 billion tons of high-quality metallurgical and thermal coal reserves, with access to all major railroads, inland waterways and a growing number of seaborne trade channels. In West Virginia, Arch Coal and its subsidiaries employ about 1,800 people. For more information, visit archcoal.com.