Woods Learning Center’s Karen Bayert Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

GILLETTE, Wyo., April 30, 2015 – “My career choice was greatly influenced by my mother,” said Karen Bayert. “She was a positive role model who made a wonderful difference in the lives of many of her students. I dreamed of following in her footsteps. Tragically, she died quite young. I dropped out of college to care for her, and it was many years before I was able to return to college and eventually become a teacher.

“After 25 years of teaching, I embrace each school year as a new and exciting challenge,” she continued. “I am motivated to teach by the ‘ah ha’ moments that occur when a student actively engages in learning. I am inspired by observing the confidence that students develop as they realize that they can learn beyond what they thought possible. One of the joys of teaching is that it provides one an opportunity to be a catalyst that sparks a student’s interest in learning.”

As a result of Bayert’s ability to inspire her students, she received statewide recognition today. She was one of only 10 teachers to receive a 2015 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. John W. Eaves, Arch Coal’s chairman and chief executive officer, made the announcement during a ceremony at Paintbrush Elementary School in Gillette. He was accompanied by Gov. Matt Mead and Wyoming Education Association Executive Director Ron Sniffin. This is the 15th year the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards have been presented in Wyoming. It is the longest-running, privately funded teacher recognition program in the state.

“We’re honored to recognize these 10 outstanding Wyoming classroom teachers for their long hours and great professionalism, which provide a high-quality education for the students of the state,” Eaves said. “They exemplify the spirit and dedication of teachers throughout Wyoming who continually adapt to new teaching methods, technologies and curriculum while striving to help their students achieve heights they never thought possible. We applaud them for their efforts and congratulate them on today’s achievement.”

Bayert teaches fourth- and fifth-graders at Woods Learning Center in Casper. She has 27 years of teaching experience. “Children are naturally inquisitive learners when given the opportunity to pursue their own interests,” she said. “It is my job to support my students’ natural inquiry by providing the materials and essential skills needed to guarantee their continued success. I believe everything my students learn in school should be authentic and purposeful. Students need to be able to see the value in their learning and to make connections to real life experiences.”

“Mrs. Bayert demonstrates many qualities that make her a remarkable educator,” said Alexis Banta, who was a student teacher in Bayert’s classroom. “Any student that steps foot within Mrs. Bayert’s classroom knows that they are valued. While pushing her students to succeed, she takes a proactive approach in recognizing each individual and their learning needs. I have never met an educator more patient, compassionate or thoughtful in their planning, discussions and overall classroom management.”

Bayert earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from the University of Wyoming and a Master of Arts degree in literacy from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. She has received additional training from the Model Schools Conference sponsored by the International Center for Leadership in Education, as well as additional professional development in project-based learning. She serves as the building coordinator for school improvement and serves on district math, reading and assessment teams. She is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa international honorary organization of women educators. Bayert volunteers for Meals on Wheels and children’s theater, and she has coordinated drives to restock food pantries throughout Casper. Her class also participates in the annual Have a Heart Day, which pairs students with people of all ages to spend the day working for various charitable organizations.

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 Teacher Achievement Awards are underwritten by the Arch Coal Foundation and are supported in program promotion by the Wyoming Department of Education, the Wyoming Education Association, the Wyoming library community, Taco John’s and Loaf ‘N Jug stores.

Arch Coal and the Arch Coal Foundation have a long history of supporting educational and community causes in Wyoming. The Arch Coal Foundation also supports teacher recognition or grants programs in West Virginia and Colorado, as well as a number of other education-related causes. Information about each of today’s 10 Wyoming 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. 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. Arch Coal’s Thunder Basin Coal Company, which employs nearly 1,800 people in Wyoming, operates the Black Thunder and Coal Creek mines. For more information, visit