Utah Teacher Fellows Podcast

We focus on sharing teacher stories to advocate for the education profession.

Episode 14: Learning about Native American Arts and Culture with Cally Flox and Brenda Beyal

This month we have an additional Utah Teacher Fellows episode with Cally Flox, the Director of the Brigham Young University (BYU) Arts Partnership and Brenda Beyal, a Navajo Diné educator on Native American arts and culture, hosted by Natalie Johnson.

Cally Flox, the Director of the BYU ARTS Partnership loves collaborating with others and finding innovative solutions. Brenda Beyal, grew up on the Navajo reservation and received a Bachelor’s degree from BYU. She has been in education for 34 years and is now working with Cally on the BYU Arts Partnership. Together these two knew they needed to look inward at their own biases to make the Native American Curriculum Initiative (NACI) culturally responsive.

In this special episode, listen to Brenda Beyal formally introduce herself in Navajo thus establishing her relationships with those who are listening and letting them know that her roots run deep in history and ancestry. Hear how Cally and Brenda came together with the BYU Arts Partnership and how educators can be more culturally responsive in their classrooms.

Episode 13: Kristin Mansell – Intermediate Teacher Perspective

Kristin intended to be a Chemical Engineering major due to her love for science. However, she enjoyed learning other languages and ended up completing a degree in Greek and Latin. After graduation she was headed to dental school, but decided to take a hiatus and wait tables. While waiting tables, she ran into her high school principal who told Kristin she would make a great teacher and reminding her how much she loves the sciences. This was the spark Kristin needed to become an educator.

Kristin has been teaching 19 years as an intermediate educator and loves teaching science to her students. She has pushed herself in education and is now a Phd student for Educational Leadership Policy at Texas Tech University. She is leading the way to help and support her students. Listen to this episode and hear more about her story.

Episode 12: Marley McClune – Do you have imposter syndrome?

Marley McClune began her teaching journey through taking courses she loved even if they didn’t follow a particular education path. She found that Family and Consumer Science classes are where she found her passion. Therefore, she made a shift and decided to get her education degree that would allow her to teach Family and Consumer Science to young learners. Now Marley is on the move to own her leadership skills and make a difference in her students’ education. She is interested in the political world of education and pushes herself to learn more and ask questions when unsure. Listen to this episode and hear her story and how she learned that emulating or recreating another’s greatness is not necessary, we can create our own greatness — we all have something special.

Episode 11: Kacee Weaver – Advocate for our youngest learners

Kacee Weaver started her love for education as the neighbor girl who instituted compulsory school with her neighborhood friends. This passion for education resurfaced during her time at university when she switched from a psychology to education major. This occurred after her experience as a part-time substitute teacher. She fell in love with schools and children! Kacee’s passion stems from her belief that education is “the advocacy of human potential.”

Kacee is passionate about educational equity and reform. She earned a dual Bachelors in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Weber State University (2006) and a Masters in Montessori Education from St. Catherine University (2013). Listen to her story in how she uses her vast knowledge in early childhood education and Montessori education to support our youngest learners.

Episode 10: Audryn Damron – Being a teacher and running for Utah State Board

Audryn Damron unexpectedly began her teaching journey in a swimming pool — helping a young boy with Autism learn how to swim. A supervisor’s suggestion that she consider special education as a potential career led Audryn to education. She is certified to teach secondary mathematics in special education and has completed a Master’s Degree in Special Education with a thesis focus on teaching self-advocacy skills to students with disabilities. Additionally, Audryn is a National Board Certified teacher! In this episode, Audryn discusses how and why she became a teacher and why she is now running for Utah State Board of Education! Listen to this episode to hear her story.

Episode 9: Reflections with Utah Teacher Fellows

A year in review with Utah Teacher Fellows. In this episode we are taking the time to reflect on this past year (2021-2022), discuss some major challenges, talk about our summer plans, and our next steps in education. There have been some serious moments that have affected our classrooms, our nation, our world, and our own lives. Listen to this episode to hear our reflections and how we move forward to the new school year.

Episode 8: Laleh Ghotbi – Overcoming the barriers in America

Laleh Ghotbi’s education career started early coming from an educator family where her mother was her inspiration! Laleh started teaching in her home country of Iran in 1992 where she taught for 8 years until she moved to the United States in 2000. In the U.S. she has worked as an Academic Enhancement Coordinator at Indian Hills Elementary for two years, has earned two Masters’ degrees, and is currently a fourth-grade teacher.

Her journey as an educator in the United States has not been a smooth and straightforward journey. She had to combat many barriers from getting the proper visas, having to work various rudimentary educator jobs, and then finally having to get an additional master’s degree in education (despite already having a teaching license and master’s degree in another country!). In this episode, Laleh discusses why she has remained a teacher in America. She is a teacher here to stand up for her own children and children of all diverse backgrounds. Listen to this episode to hear her story, her perspective, and what it’s like to stand against so many obstacles.

Episode 7: John Arthur 2021 Utah Teacher of the Year

John Arthur’s Utah education career started with his 9th grade teacher Kathy Anderson, who Jedi mind-tricked him into his teaching career. John went to Westminster College to get his graduate degrees in education in Utah. He is currently a 6th grade teacher at Meadowlark Elementary, a Title I school in Salt Lake City, Utah. He embraced the profession and became Utah’s 2021 Teacher of the Year and 2021 National Teacher of Year Finalist. In this episode, John discusses how and why he became a teacher. He is here to coach champions, not just teach students. Listen to this episode to hear his story and get psyched about teaching.

Episode 6: Georgiana Simpson High School Art Educator of the Year 2022

Georgiana Simpson’s Utah education career also started in a non-traditional spot — as a businesswoman. Through an alternative route process, she eventually settled in as a visual arts teacher, a trader in and collector of Native Nations art, artist, writer, mother, and fierce advocate for what the arts bring to all of our lives. Georgiana embraced the profession and became the 2022 High School Arts Teacher of the Year. In this episode, Georgiana discusses how she became a teacher and how she stays passionate in education. Listen to this episode to hear her story and get your creative juices flowing!

Episode 5: Lauren Merkley 2020 Utah State Teacher of the Year

Lauren Merkley’s Utah education career started in a non-traditional spot — as a corporate fundraiser on the east coast. Through an alternative route process, she eventually settled in as an AP English Language and Composition teacher at Cottonwood High School in Murray, Utah. Lauren embraced the profession and became Utah’s 2020 Teacher of the Year. In this episode, Lauren discusses how and why she became a teacher, the importance of building human connections with students, and how she stays passionate about teaching by utilizing the “shitty drafts.” Listen to this episode to hear her story and get pumped about teaching.

Episode 4: Machelle Maxwell: The Ultimate Library/Media Specialist

Machelle Maxwell began her education career as a classroom teacher and became the ultimate library/media specialist. In this episode, Machelle discusses her progression through the various arenas of education — teacher, instructional coach, media specialist, mentor, advisor, etc. She greets each position in education as an opportunity to grow and help students learn. Machelle is the epitome of a lifelong learner! Listen to her story and get inspired to learn and grow yourself.

Episode 3: ElevateEd UT with Steve Phelps, Karren Pyfer, and Rachel Wright

Meet the directors and founders of ElevateEd UT, Steve Phelps, Karren Pyfer, and Rachel Wright. Hear about their journeys into education and what led them to band together and start an organization right before the legislative season. Listen and learn how to become more involved in supporting public education in Utah.

Episode 2: Meet the Director, Tabitha Pacheco

Meet the director, founder, and friend of the Utah Teacher Fellows, Tabitha Pacheco. Hear about her journey and how she became an advocate in the education world in spite of the daily demands of teaching. Learn how nannying a boy with Down Syndrome inspired a teaching career, leading to recognition as a National Teacher Fellow in Washington, D.C., and culminating in the creation of the Utah Teacher Fellows. Listen to learn strategies and techniques to progress in the profession and overcome the dreaded “burnout” and monotony so common in education.

Episode 1: Introducing the Utah Teacher Fellows Podcast

Meet the entire Social Media team from the Utah Teacher Fellows, part of the Hope Street Group. Hear about our journeys in education and what gets us psyched about teaching. Some of us journeyed along the same path, while others meandered along eventually figuring out that teaching is the place to be.


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