CHARLESTON — Pamela Bush didn’t initially choose education as a career. As a teenager, life changes forced her to quit school and get married. And yet, Bush didn’t let these circumstances get in the way of earning her GED and subsequently becoming a teacher.
“At the young age of 15, I became a mother and began teaching my daughter,” she said. “Teaching was fun as she learned how to recite and write the alphabet, identify colors, and learn how to write her name.
“Later I became a teacher at my church,” she continued. “That is when I fell in love with teaching. At last I felt as though I had found my place in the world. Some 22 years later, I decided to follow my dream and become a teacher. It is this love of teaching that motivates me each year to give my best to my students. I enjoy exposing them to new discoveries in West Virginia history, as well as helping them think critically about issues that shape their world.”
As a result of Bush’s ability to connect with her students, she received statewide recognition today. She was one of only 12 teachers to receive a 2014 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. John W. Eaves, Arch Coal 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 26th year the awards have been presented in West Virginia. It is the longest-running, privately funded teacher recognition program in the state.
“We’re honored to recognize the 12 outstanding West Virginia teachers who were selected as this year’s recipients of the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Awards,” Eaves said. “If a solid education is the foundation upon which an individual builds a successful life, then excellent teachers are the mortar that holds the foundation together. These 12 individuals are great examples of the many committed teachers who strive daily to educate our children and make West Virginia a stronger state.”
Bush teaches West Virginia history to eighth-grade students at Logan Middle School. She has eight years of teaching experience.
“My philosophy of teaching has always been to reach each child academically and morally,” she said. “I have found that a word of encouragement goes a long way. I believe in reaching their hearts before reaching their brains. The most important thing that I try to remember is that I am teaching students, not material.”
“Pamela Bush loves to teach, and she gives 100 percent to her craft each day,” Elizabeth Thompson, vice principal at Logan Middle School said. “She is a team player who strives to engage all her students while maintaining a classroom free from outside interferences, yet inviting to all students willing to be ‘present’ in the educational moment. She strives to make her lesson meaningful and interesting as she leads her students through our great state’s history and culture.”
Bush earned an associate degree from Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from West Virginia State University, and a secondary degree in social studies from West Virginia State. She is pursuing a master’s degree in geography from Concord University through the West Virginia Geographic Alliance. She has attended the Teacher Leadership Institute and served as a presenter on project-based learning at the Logan County Teachers Academy. She also is a member of the Teaching American History Project.
Bush is active in her church where she leads the Children’s Church program and is a director of the youth choir. She has coached Logan Middle School’s Academic Games team, which has competed in several national competitions, and oversees the eighth-grade students competing in the West Virginia Golden Horseshoe Challenge, producing five state winners. She also sponsors the National Junior Honor Society and oversees the students’ many community activities including raising money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Pennies for Patients with leukemia and lymphoma, and sponsoring a shoe drive for children in Afghanistan. She resides in Whitman.
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. In West Virginia, Arch Coal and its subsidiaries employ about 1,800 people. For more information, visit archcoal.com and responsible.archcoal.com.