University High School’s Irma R. Barazzone
Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Morgantown, W.Va., March 22, 2016 – Irma R. Barazzone didn’t initially choose education as a career, but the need for something more motivated her to pursue teaching. “After leaving undergraduate school with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in graphic design in 1978, I was fortunate to land a design job with West Virginia University at its office of publications that continued for almost 10 years,” Barazzone said. “Wonderful years where I learned the concept of working within a team to accomplish the mission of our jobs.

“Despite having found success in that first job, I began to yearn for something more,” she continued. “There was that nagging feeling that something was missing – a need to contribute to a lasting whole greater than myself or the institution for which I worked. I am now in my 25th year of teaching in the public schools of West Virginia, and I have had the opportunity to teach art in a variety of settings to a variety of ages. The most important thing I do for my students is to instill a belief that each and every one is valued and that all are able to learn.”

As a result of Barazzone’s ability to inspire her students, she received statewide recognition today at a student assembly held at University High School. She becomes one of only 10 West Virginia teachers to receive a 2016 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. This is the 28th year the awards have been presented in West Virginia. It is the longest-running, privately funded teacher recognition program in the state.

“We are honored to recognize an outstanding West Virginia teacher such as Irma R. Barazzone with an Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award,” said John W. Eaves, Arch Coal chairman and chief executive officer. “Her dedication to the teaching profession and to ensuring the success of her students will serve the citizens of the state well, both now and in the future. Irma is just one of the many West Virginia classroom educators who are constantly striving to adapt to new teaching methods, technologies and curriculum. We congratulate them all on their commitment to improving the lives of those in the state.”

Barazzone teaches art at University High School in Morgantown. “I have found the basic needs of our children remain the same – a safe environment where they are honored, respected and protected from bias and encouraged to reach for their own unique potential,” she said. “Helping them find their voice and establish awareness that they can control their destiny is paramount.”

“Irma is the type of educator every student and parent hopes for,” said Kathryn Peno, a fellow teacher at University High School. “Irma has an excellent rapport with all kinds of students, including the ones who ‘can’t’ make art. This is a result of her patience, passion and sincere interest in the growth and development of each and every student she comes into contact with. She is always there for her students to offer support and guidance, whatever the situation.”

Barazzone earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in graphic design, a Master of Arts degree in art education and a Master of Fine Arts degree in ceramics from West Virginia University, Morgantown. She holds a principal’s certificate and is working toward certification in art therapy. She also has attended a number of advanced placement professional development sessions, as well as state and national art conferences, both as a participant and as a presenter. Barazzone was the 2007 West Virginia Art Education Association elementary art teacher of the year and is a past recipient of the Arch Coal Golden Apple Award. In 2008, the Dominion Post named her one of Morgantown’s most influential people. Barazzone participates in a number of civic activities including Habitat for Humanity, Arts in the Park and the Empty Bowls fundraiser, which helps stock local foodbanks. She is a resident of Fairmont, 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 personal cash award. The West Virginia Foundation for the Improvement of Education, a foundation of the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA), also presents a $1,000 cash award to each recipient’s school for use with at-risk students.

“The West Virginia Education Association and the West Virginia Foundation for the Improvement of Education are pleased to partner with Arch Coal as it recognizes some of the great teachers that work throughout our state,” said WVEA President Dale Lee. “Teachers are rarely honored for the hard work and long hours they put into providing a high-quality education for the students of our state, and I want to thank Arch Coal for recognizing our teachers. These teachers exemplify the spirit and dedication of their peers throughout the state.”

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. Information about West Virginia recipients, as well as past recipients, is posted at