Utah teacher one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year

Utah’s 2021 Teacher of the Year John Arthur of Bluffdale, a sixth grade teacher at Meadowlark Elementary School, a Title I school in the Salt Lake City School District, has been named one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year.

He and his students have gained national recognition as advocates for children and immigrants through the videos they create and share on their YouTube channel, “9thEvermore.”

“Kids recognize injustice when they see it and aren’t afraid to call it out,” he said. “When they do, they are often told to quiet down or keep it to themselves. In my classroom, students know that their voices belong in critical conversations and their perspective is invaluable. Each year, my students research an equity issue that directly affects them and address it by writing a poem together, set to music, filmed, and published on YouTube. The video is their contribution to the public discourse; it is the final project in a unit that connects a social studies standard – students will understand current global issues and their rights and responsibilities in the interconnected world.”

Selection as a finalist is a rare feat, and Mr. Arthur joins Kate K. Dennis of Box Elder School District, a finalist in 1979, and Naomi Ione Sorenson of Salt Lake City School District, a finalist in 1963.

“I have witnessed firsthand, Mr. Arthur’s commitment to excellence, engaging parents as education partners, and focus on equitable opportunities for all,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson.  “I am grateful that the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Teacher of the Year Committee recognize Mr. Arthur’s accomplishments and am proud that he is considered among the best in the nation.”   


Arthur found his passion for empowering youth while substitute teaching in Title I classrooms. Inspired by those students, he earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from Westminster College. Now, in his eighth year at Meadowlark, he is a National Board Certified Teacher and an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Education at Westminster College. He continues to advance his own learning in meeting the needs of all students, earning a Master of Education in K-6 Special Education and an English Language Learner endorsement.

Arthur believes that educational equity is a moral imperative, and that a teacher’s perspective is essential when crafting educational policy. He has chaired the Social Justice Committee for the Salt Lake Education Association and currently represents the Asian community on the Utah State Board of Education’s Advisory Committee on Equity. He is also helping revise Utah’s K-6 Social Studies Standards.


Here’s a taste: a video they did honoring Emmeline B. Wells.


And here is one about daughters growing up without their fathers.