Hayden Valley Elementary School kindergarten teacher Laura Voorhees reacts Thursday morning after learning she won the Peabody Energy Leaders in Education Award. Peabody Energy Colorado Director of Human Resources Scott Harrell and Peabody Energy Leaders in Education Program Manager Maureen Moore visited the school and presented a gift basket and a check for $1,000 to Voorhees during a school assembly.

Photo by John F. Russell

Hayden Valley Elementary School kindergarten teacher Laura Voorhees reacts Thursday morning after learning she won the Peabody Energy Leaders in Education Award. Peabody Energy Colorado Director of Human Resources Scott Harrell and Peabody Energy Leaders in Education Program Manager Maureen Moore visited the school and presented a gift basket and a check for $1,000 to Voorhees during a school assembly.

Peabody Energy recognizes Hayden kindergarten teacher Laura Voorhees

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Hayden Valley Elementary School kindergarten teacher Laura Voorhees and her class pose with a check from the Peabody Energy Leaders in Education program. Peabody Energy Colorado Director of Human Resources Scott Harrell and Peabody Energy Leaders in Education Program Manager Maureen Moore, both in the back row, joined the class for the photograph.

— On Thursday morning, students at Hayden Valley Elementary School were asked what coal gives them during an informal assembly inside the school’s gym.

One student answered electricity that goes into the power lines, another added that it provides light for her home at night, and one boy said coal provided the energy to charge his remote-controlled cars.

All great answers, but on this day, Peabody Energy was there to provide something that the students didn’t expect.

Maureen Moore, program director for Peabody Energy’s Leaders in Education, flew into Hayden from Missouri to recognize kindergarten teacher Laura Voorhees and present the popular teacher with a $1,000 award for her efforts.

Scott Harrell, a representative for Twentymile Mine, joined Moore along with Sarah Leonard, the director of special events for the Steamboat Chamber Resort Association.

Voorhees has worked at the school for past six years. Moore said Voorhees puts her students’ needs first and finds unique ways to collaborate, share ideas and implement new strategies so her students have a successful learning experience. Voorhees has incorporated technology in her lessons and was chosen to participate in Microsoft’s U.S. Innovative Education Forum, where she collaborated with teachers from across the national about the role technology plays in early-childhood education. Voorhees also encourages parents to get involved in the classroom through her website, where she posts pictures and videos from classroom activities.

“She is an inspiration,” Moore said. “She won this award based on her dedication to set children in this community on the right path.”

Peabody presents the award in communities where its employees live. The company plans to honor 10 to 12 more educators this year in Routt, Moffat and Eagle counties, where Peabody has mining operations or cooperate offices.

Moore said the award is a way to recognize not only teachers, but also educators who are making a difference in children’s lives. She said the award is open to anyone in education from custodians to principals.

Peers or community members nominate the award winners, and a panel of judges — which includes executives from Peabody, educational representatives and community members — make the final choices on winners.

“I’m very surprised. I had no idea what was going on,” Voorhees said after being presented with the award Thursday. “It means a lot, and it’s nice to be recognized. It’s nice to know that what you are doing in the classroom is paying off.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com

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