Self-described ‘shy Korean boy’ grows up to become Utah’s 2021 Teacher of the Year

SALT LAKE CITY — A self-described “shy Korean boy,” John Arthur credits his junior high and high school teachers for helping him find his voice.



John Arthur, Utah’s Teacher of the Year, wears a special punk tuxedo jacket and gym shorts as he poses for a photo in his sixth grade classroom at Meadowlark Elementary School in Salt Lake City after learning of the award on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020.


© Steve Griffin, Deseret News
John Arthur, Utah’s Teacher of the Year, wears a special punk tuxedo jacket and gym shorts as he poses for a photo in his sixth grade classroom at Meadowlark Elementary School in Salt Lake City after learning of the award on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020.

“If it wasn’t for them, one, I might not have made it through high school, but two, I certainly wouldn’t be a teacher and I wouldn’t have the guts to say anything that’s on my mind or my heart,” said Arthur, addressing the Utah State Board of Education Thursday, moments after being name Utah’s 2021 Teacher of the Year.

Now in his eighth year of teaching, Arthur teaches sixth grade at Meadowlark Elementary School, a

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Salt Lake 6th grade teacher is Utah’s 2021 Teacher of the Year

SALT LAKE CITY — An unexpected visitor dropped by John Arthur’s sixth grade classroom at Meadowlark Elementary School Thursday.



a person posing for the camera


It was none other than State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson, who popped in to tell Arthur he had been selected as Utah’s 2021 Teacher of the Year.

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Ordinarily, the winner is announced at a banquet. But in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is no ordinary school year.

Arthur was in the middle of an online lesson because the Salt Lake City School District started the school year with remote instruction.

“He was so worried about making sure that they (his students) were being taught while they were on. It was amazing to watch him manage everything while we were punking him,” Dickson said.

Arthur, addressing the Utah State Board of Education via Zoom later in the morning, said he was still in shock, describing the

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