Nicholas County High School’s Samantha S. Murphy Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Charleston, W. Va. (March 30, 2015) – Samantha S. Murphy said the stark economic reality of her youth led her to a critical decision about her future. “I knew that if I were diligent enough and worked hard in school to earn my diploma, I could attend college and be able to make something of myself one day,” she said.

“At the age of 19, I was nearing the end of my second year of college, and I needed to take another step in digging myself out of the hole of poverty in which I was born,” she continued. “I knew what I needed to do. I needed to become a teacher because young people, like myself, could use someone who knows what it’s like to have the odds stacked against her and, moreover, someone who chose not to give up. What motivates me to continue teaching are the bonds that I create with my students, especially the ‘hard to reach’ ones.”

As a result of Murphy’s ability to inspire her students, 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.”

Murphy teaches English at Nicholas County High School in Summersville. She has nine years of teaching experience. “My philosophy of teaching revolves around my belief that every student can reach his or her full potential in a safe environment that welcomes diversity,” she said. “Each student is an individual and should know that he or she plays an integral part in our classroom regardless of his or her strengths or weaknesses. It is my role to help all students polish their strengths, and address and overcome their weaknesses.”

“Mrs. Murphy was my English 11 teacher, and she was wonderful,” said Samuel Fox, a student at Nicholas County High School. “She is the kind of teacher with the ability to make every one of her students feel successful regardless of their aptitude. Her classroom is always filled with lots of learning and positive energy. After being a student of Mrs. Murphy’s, I feel more confident entering college and becoming successful in my college English classes.”

Murphy holds a bachelor’s degree in English education from Glennville State College, Glenville, and a master’s degree in secondary education from Marshall University, Huntington. Murphy founded the Grizzly Girls Group (3G) after-school program to empower young women to do community service activities. The group has made tie blankets for newborns at the local hospital, baked cookies for teachers experiencing personal hardships, hosted a Teen Pregnancy/STD Prevention Night and participated in Project Beautiful. She now is organizing an Arts and Crafts for Community Service Group, which will allow young men to participate in community activities. Her classes also sent letters and care packages to soldiers overseas through the Adopt a Soldier Program, and she organized an AIDs walk through the Take the Walk program to raise money for children in Africa. Murphy resides in Strange Creek, 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. 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