SALT LAKE CITY — An unexpected visitor dropped by John Arthur’s sixth grade classroom at Meadowlark Elementary School Thursday.
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.
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 announcement as a “warm and incredible surprise this morning but I’m incredibly grateful. I’m proud to bring this back to the Salt Lake City School District and Meadowlark Elementary.”
Arthur said he owed the recognition to five women: his principals, his mother-in-law who cares for his and his wife’s children while they work, his mother and his wife, Stacey, who is also an educator.
“I feel so blessed. Children are the best people and teaching is the best job. There’s just no better way to spend a day than working with kids,” Arthur said.
Arthur, who is starting his eighth year in the classroom, is a National Board Certified Teacher, one of 438 Utah educators who have achieved that certification, according to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Utah, Arthur worked as a substitute teacher and discovered his passion for working with children and returned to college to earn a master’s degree of teaching and education from Westminster College.
Arthur guides his students in creating music videos that they produce together and share on their YouTube channel, 9thEvermore. Arthur’s students have garnered national recognition as advocates for children and immigrants for their work.
“Arthur allows his students to take the lead in their work, coaching them as they craft their content and providing a platform for their work,” the Utah State Board of Education’s website states.
An adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Education at Westminster College, Arthur works with students training to become teachers.
Arthur holds endorsements in K–6 special education, specializing in students with mild/moderate disabilities, and English as a Second Language.
He presents at conferences and has spoken on panels for organizations such as the National Association for Multicultural Education and the Utah Education Association.
Arthur delivered the keynote address at the Leadership and Inquiry for Turnaround Conference at the University of Utah.
“A fierce believer that educational equity is both necessary and attainable, Arthur serves on the Advisory Committee on Equity of Educational Services for Students for the Utah State Board of Education,” the website states.
As Utah’s 2021 Utah Teacher of the Year, Arthur will represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year Program in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers.
This story will be updated.