Education

Martinsburg High School’s Melissa Elliott
Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Martinsburg, W.Va., March 23, 2016 – “One of the most important characteristics of my identity is being a teacher,” said Melissa Elliott. “Much like the marriage vows, teaching ‘is not to be entered into lightly or in jest and only after much consideration.’ Teaching for me is a lifelong commitment to being the best educator I can be.

“Throughout my teaching career I have worked to make connections with my students,” she continued. “The ability to find common ground allows us to see each other outside of our roles in the classroom. As a teacher, you are entrusted with young people’s well­being. I take my job very seriously.”

As a result of Elliott’s ability to connect with her students, she received statewide recognition today at a student assembly held at Martinsburg 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 Melissa Elliott 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. Melissa 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.”

Elliott teaches English to juniors and seniors at Martinsburg High School. She has 12 years of teaching experience. “I hold all students to a high standard,” she said. “I expect them to do their best. Students know the worth of their grade because they had to work for it, but their best means different things for each student. Individualized learning may be a newer buzz word in education, but it is what teachers have been doing for years.”

“Melissa Elliott is a rare breed of teacher,” said Melissa Hollen, director of federal programs for Berkeley County Schools. “It is often said that people pursue a career in teaching either because they love their subject matter or they love the actual art of teaching youth. Mrs. Elliott is that teacher who embodies both a love of her subject and a love of the art of teaching, and you walk away from each experience with her knowing that she has impacted and will continue to impact the lives of students in a positive way.”

Elliott earned a Bachelor of Science degree in English education from Buffalo State College in New York, and a Master of Arts degree in English from the College of Staten Island, New York. Elliott has served as yearbook advisor, Support for Personalized Learning coordinator, Library Club co-advisor, English 11 Data Team leader and Faculty Senate vice president, president and secretary at Martinsburg High School. She also is a member of the Instruction Practices Inventory (IPI) Data Collection Team and the Olweus (anti-bullying program) Committee. Elliott initiated a recycling program for school supplies and participates in the Kids Power Pack weekend food backpack program. She is an officer for her Alpha Delta Kappa chapter, International Honorary Organization for Women Educators, and a support person for the Federal Programs Summer School Program for at-risk elementary students in cooperation with the Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle.

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 archteacherawards.com.