CHARLESTON — Two local teachers, Deidra L. Mahon at Chapmanville Middle School and Amy Salmons at Tug Valley High School, were among 12 West Virginia Teachers receiving the Teacher Achievement Award from the Arch Coal Foundation.
The 12 teachers were honored on March 28 in Charleston. The event also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Teacher Achievement Awards. It is West Virginia’s longest-running privately sponsored teacher recognition program.
The announcement was made by John W. Eaves, Arch Coal president and chief executive officer. He was accompanied by West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) President Dale Lee.
“Today, Arch Coal celebrates teaching excellence in West Virginia, where for 25 years this program has been honoring teachers who make our schools and communities successful,” said Eaves at the event. “This year’s Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award winners come from different backgrounds but share common traits. In addition to being teachers, they are lifelong learners and expect excellence from their students and themselves. On behalf of the 1,800 employees of Arch and its subsidiaries in West Virginia, it is our privilege to recognize these teachers.”
Mahon says a love of literature and the beauty of the written language initially drew her to the teaching profession. But that is not what kept her there.
“Make no mistake. It is still thrilling to me when we read Annabel Lee in class and my students have that moment of magic when I see that they make a real connection to the emotions of another through the poem,” Mahon said. “Throughout the years, though, I have come to realize that I teach because I want to use my ability to make a connection with people to do some good in the world, even if it is only in a small way through my personal connection with my students.
“Possibly the most important thing that I do for my students is to help them understand that they can succeed, not because of what they were born with or without, but that through hard work they can make a valuable contribution to society, and that they each have something valuable to give.
“It is this simple quest that motivates me to continue … to try to help students realize their own self-worth, to know that they each are important and able and gifted.”
Salmons chose teaching as a profession so that she could pass along her love of math to others. “I want to show my students how important math is to society,” she said. “My goal is for them to master mathematical ways of thinking and to build their confidence within themselves so that they want – and are prepared – to go to college.
“The most important thing I do for my students is to provide them with opportunities to use math that ‘real’ people need and use in the real world. I provide them with the opportunity to gain math skills and the ability to problem solve. I work at creating an environment in which high expectations exist for all students and create opportunities so that all students can experience success.”
Salmons teaches advanced placement calculus, pre-calculus, trigonometry and math to ninth- through 12th-grade students at Tug Valley High School in Williamson. She has seven years of teaching experience.
“All students have the ability to learn,” Salmons said. “Mathematics is a hard subject for students. However, I believe that mathematical understanding is essential for everyone, and every student should progress as far in this field as possible. My goal for my students is to inspire them to want to learn math and to continue their education past high school.”
Other teachers honored were: Michele Adams of Spring Mills Middle School at Martinsburg; Megan A. Bacorn of Union Elementary School at Buckhannon; Cynthia Burke of Sherrard Middle School at Wheeling; Kimberly Cook of Summersville Elementary School at Summersville; James L. Dennis of Parkersburg South High School at Parkersburg; Virginia Hicks of Buckhannon Academy Elementary School at Buckhannon; Amanda Sammons Meadows of Bradley Elementary School at Mt. Hope; Brooke Scott of Union Elementary School at Buckhannon; Erin Sponaugle of Tomahawk Intermediate School at Hedgesville and Jayne Whitlow of Parkersburg South High School at Parkersburg.
“WVEA is pleased to again partner with the Arch Coal Foundation’s Teacher Achievement Awards,” said Lee. “It is refreshing to find a corporation such as Arch Coal that understands the value of teaching and the dedication of West Virginia’s teachers to the academic success of their students. It is even rarer to find one that is willing to support a program that exists for 25 years to honor those teachers. WVEA thanks Arch Coal and especially all the outstanding teachers throughout West Virginia for their commitment to public education.”
Retired Parkersburg elementary school teacher Lois Meadows, a recipient in 1998, also spoke on behalf of the 24 years of past teachers who received the award. She said the award validated her teaching abilities and has allowed her to “let the light of many other teachers shine” as she has nominated many worthy teachers from around West Virginia for this award.
The public nominates teachers, and a blue-ribbon peer panel of the award recipients selects the winners. In addition to recognition, Teacher Achievement Awards recipients receive a $3,500 unrestricted cash award, a distinctive trophy and a classroom plaque. The West Virginia Foundation for the Improvement of Education, a foundation of WVEA, makes a $1,000 award to each public school with a recipient, for use with at-risk students.
The teacher recognition awards are underwritten by the Arch Coal Foundation and supported in program-promotion by the West Virginia Department of Education, the WVEA and the West Virginia Library Commission. The Arch Coal Foundation also supports teacher recognition or grants programs in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado, as well as a number of other education-related causes.