Pine Bluffs Elementary School’s Sharon A. Duffey
Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Pine Bluffs, Wyo., May 3, 2016 – Sharon A. Duffey was convinced her career path was firmly established as a piano performance major and private piano teacher. She had no desire to teach in a school setting – until the day she changed her mind. “After graduating, my husband and I moved to Cheyenne,” she said. “A friend mentioned that schools needed substitutes and suggested I check it out.

“My first assignment was music at East High, and my first class was concert choir,” she continued. “As I began conducting, instructing, requiring higher levels of musicianship, the students responded. I felt the excitement of leading and guiding students through the notes, saw the transformation on their faces as they progressed to the emotional level of the song, and realized that we were on this musical journey together. My passion for teaching in school exploded at that moment.”

As a result of Duffey’s ability to instill self-confidence, she received statewide recognition today at a student assembly held at Pine Bluffs Elementary School. She becomes one of only 10 Wyoming teachers to receive a 2016 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. This is the 16th year the awards have been presented in Wyoming. It is the longest-running, privately funded teacher recognition program in the state.

“We are honored to present Sharon A. Duffey with an Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award in recognition of her dedication to the teaching profession and to ensuring the success of her students,” said John W. Eaves, chairman and chief executive officer. “She is among the many outstanding Wyoming classroom teachers who strive diligently each day to provide their students with a high-quality education. We congratulate them all for their professionalism and commitment to enriching the lives of their students and ensuring a bright future for the state.”

Duffey teaches general music at Pine Bluffs Elementary and general music and band at Albin Elementary School in Albin. She has 27 years of teaching experience. “The most important thing I do for my students is show unconditional love and care about their character,” she said. “I help students develop self-confidence, process decision making, think past the immediate, recognize benefits and consequences of choices, and understand the importance of taking responsibility for actions. I hold them accountable and discuss ethics and integrity. My students learn how to think.”

“Mrs. Duffey is one of those teachers who strives to see her students excel,” said parent Jami Kirkbride. “She pushes them toward excellence and sets a high standard both for skills and behavior. Her students are eager to perform and excited to go above and beyond the basics. Students are more apt to do this when they have had a teacher who gives genuine praise and appreciation for their efforts. She has established a great rapport with the kids and you can clearly see that when you watch her interact with them.”

Duffey earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a master’s of music education degree from Arizona State University in Tempe. She has received National Board Certification and is trained as a candidate support provider to assist others applying for national certification.

Teachers are nominated by the public, and a blue-ribbon panel of past awards recipients selects the annual winners. Each recipient is presented with a distinctive trophy, a classroom plaque and a personal cash award.

The Teacher Achievement Awards are underwritten by the Arch Coal Foundation and are supported in program promotion by the Office of the Governor, the Wyoming Department of Education, the Wyoming Library Community, the Wyoming Education Association (WEA), Taco John’s and Loaf ‘N Jug.

“Teachers play a vital role in shaping the future,” said Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Their impact reaches not only their students and their school, but also their community and our state. I’m so proud to have a multitude of excellent educators in Wyoming and grateful that Arch Coal has supported teachers through this award for generations. Arch Coal is a wonderful partner in education and in recognizing, even in difficult times, the significant and valuable contribution made by these teachers.”

“The governor and legislators have made education a priority in Wyoming through investing in a great system and our Wyoming students; those dollars are paying off. Significant funding for K-12 comes directly from the mining industry and I would like to thank them for all they do to educate students in our state, as our students are truly our future. Recent reports show that Wyoming students lead the West, and the WEA is confident that support for a strong education in Wyoming will continue in the future,” said WEA President Kathy Vetter.

Arch Coal and the Arch Coal Foundation have a long history of supporting educational and community causes in Wyoming. The Arch Coal Foundation also supports teacher recognition or grants programs in West Virginia and Colorado. Information about Wyoming recipients, as well as past recipients, is posted at

U.S.-based Arch Coal, Inc. is a top coal producer for the global steel and power generation industries, reliably serving customers worldwide. Its network of large-scale, low-cost mining complexes is the most diversified in the United States, spanning every major coal basin in the nation. Arch Coal’s Thunder Basin Coal Company operates the Black Thunder and Coal Creek mines in Wyoming. For more information, visit