Utah Teacher Fellows Podcast

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

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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