Ritchie Elementary’s Ashbrook Earns Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Charleston (March 6, 2003) – Although she’s already devoted more than 30 years to the teaching profession, Karen Hudson Ashbrook says she’ll continue to teach until she can no longer sit on the floor. “Then I will make room for new teachers with fresh ideas, wanting to make the world a better place,” she adds. “In them I will see myself. Teaching is a part of me. It’s what I do best.”

Ashbrook’s latest achievement confirms it. She is one of only 10 West Virginia teachers to receive a 2003 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Steven F. Leer, Arch Coal president and chief executive officer, made the announcement, accompanied by West Virginia Governor Bob Wise; Secretary of Education and Arts Kay Goodwin; Deputy State Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Paine, and WVEA President Tom Lange, at a presentation ceremony at the state capitol.

“This year’s ‘class’ of recipients is proof that West Virginia is blessed with many excellent teachers,” says Leer. “We truly believe excellent teachers are the cornerstone of our society and economic vitality. These recipients have experience, expertise and a passion for learning, and they pass it on to their students every day.”

Ashbrook teaches pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students at Ritchie Elementary, Wheeling. Her lessons may incorporate anything from tornado tubes and bottle oceans to sandcastles and shaving cream. “I try to anticipate whatever it takes for a child to reach his or her ‘aha!’ moment,” she explains.

A personal touch makes a difference, according to Ashbrook. “When a student says, ‘Who cares?’ I respond, ‘I do.’” she says.

Ashbrook often reminds parents they should be their children’s best teachers. “I have them silently watch the clock for one minute, and then I say, ‘That minute is gone forever. You can never reclaim it. So make each minute with your child really count. You will never be sorry,’ ” she says.

Ashbrook earned her bachelor’s degree at West Liberty State and a master’s degree at West Virginia University at Morgantown, where she continues her doctoral studies. She also holds birth-to-age-5 certification and pre-kindergarten/kindergarten endorsement. She continues her education through numerous educational pursuits and performs consulting work. Ashbrook has traveled to China with 12 American educators and was featured in the book I Am A Teacher. She further serves her community through a wide range of church, community, civic and education-related initiatives.

In addition to recognition, recipients receive a $2,500 unrestricted cash prize, a distinctive glass trophy and a framed certificate. The West Virginia Foundation for the Improvement of Education is making a $1,000 award to each recipient’s school for use with at-risk students. The Arch Coal teacher recognition program features public nomination and peer selection.

Arch Coal is supported by the West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Education Association and Speedway in program promotion. Arch Coal’s Teacher Achievement Awards is one of the longest running, privately sponsored teacher recognition programs in the state.

Arch Coal is the nation’s second largest coal producer and a supplier of clean-burning, low-sulfur coal exclusively. Approximately 2,000 people are employed at Arch’s operations in West Virginia. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACI) and maintains its corporate headquarters in St. Louis.