Union Elementary School’s Deidra A. Casto
Receives Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award

Buckhannon, W.Va., March 18, 2016 – “Teachers awaken the spirit of all other professions –doctors, engineers, world travelers and so many more. I chose teaching because I wanted to be a part of their inspiration to become whatever it is they want to be,” said Deidra A. Casto. “The sparkle in a student’s eye when a difficult concept has been mastered, a celebration when my students reach a learning goal, these are among the reasons that motivate me to continue to teach.

“The most important thing I do for my students is to let them know that they are the center of my teaching world,” she continued. “I am constantly thinking of how to create memories and to make their year the best. My students know I care and that I will never give up on them.”

As a result of Casto’s ability to create memories for her students, she received statewide recognition today at a student assembly held at Union Elementary 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 Deidra A. Casto 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. Deidra 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.”

Casto teaches fifth grade at Union Elementary School in Buckhannon. She has eight years of teaching experience. “Every child is very unique and each deserves a secure, stable and caring environment in order to learn and grow,” she said. “A master teacher is there to guide students as they discover the world of possibilities around them. Guiding their learning and development can be done by providing students with a constructive atmosphere in the classroom. A classroom that provides students many hands-on-based learning opportunities is a great way for students to discover their interests and to gain knowledge.”

“Mrs. Casto demonstrates a love for her students,” said Dr. Sara Stankus, principal at Union Elementary. “Fifth grade is an important transition year for our students as they are getting ready for middle school. She is innovative in her teaching practices and through project-based learning and compassionate teaching, Mrs. Casto provides the necessary tools to help her students achieve and excel throughout their educational experience at Union and at life!”

Casto earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education and a Master of Education degree in reading from West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon. She has participated in a number of additional professional development courses in math, technology, understanding poverty, NASA robotics, Renaissance Learning and other assessments. She is involved in a number of church and community activities and events, including serving as the volunteer leader of the Union Hawks 4-H Club and as a coach with Girls on the Run. She also is a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha alumni chapter.

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