Utah Teacher Fellows Podcast

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

The Social Media Team – Bringing it All Together

The Social Media Team, led by Keira Beddes from Cohort 3 of the Utah Teacher Fellows, will be sharing their favorite experiences, personal growth, and leadership skills in the final episode of season 2. The team includes Audryn Damron, Natalie Johnson, Ryan Rarick, Ross Rogers, and Kayla Towner. This collaborative group supports education policy, builds capacity in educators, and provides valuable expertise on education. If you’re interested in making a difference in education, consider joining the Utah Teacher Fellows. Expect to hear some honest emotions and vulnerabilities from the team in this episode.

In the first 27 minutes listen to the Social Media Team’s favorite experiences, personal growth, and leadership skills while being in the Utah Teacher Fellows. Then in the last 4 minutes check out their final takeaways from being in this wonderful program.

Episode 18: Kerianne Carter — Moving out of the classroom & into admin?

From an early age, Kerianne Carter was aware of her desire to become an educator in the Davis School District. Despite her aspirations, it appeared that her life’s journey had taken her in another direction. That was until her cousin gave her the motivation she needed to finish her degree in education.

Kerianne currently serves fellow teachers as an Executive Board Member for the Davis Education Association, and assists students as a Jr. Hope Squad advisor for her school.

Listen to Kerianne talk about how her passion in education policy motivates her to pursue administrative roles.

Episode 17: Emma Moss – What is CTE in education?

Emma Moss is a true educator BOSS! However, she didn’t start out wanting to be an educator and was interested in neurosciences and sociology, before realizing she didn’t find joy in those majors. Emma wandered around for several years in college trying to figure out what she enjoyed and loved. Finally, after attending a FOUR hour education meeting in college, she realized she could be a GREAT teacher and maybe she had found her place in the world – EDUCATION!

Emma is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher who’s accolades include being the 2021 UT Teacher of the Year Runner-Up, UT CTE New Teacher of the Year, and an ACTE National Leadership Fellow. Emma breaks down the many areas of CTE and how CTE works in the school setting.

Get ready to listen to this engaging episode with Emma Moss and hear how she became an outstanding CTE teacher and how she stays excited about being a teacher and a life-long learner. Who knows, maybe you will want to become a CTE teacher after hearing Emma’s story!

Episode 16: Aileen Bennett – What is it like teaching advanced placement classes?

Aileen Bennett is nothing if not competitive. As a high school student, she played on an all-boys water polo team, and earned a starting spot her senior year. In fact, water polo was the only thing that kept her going to school. Currently in her 19th year as an educator Aileen joins the podcast to discuss how much she disliked high school, but now LOVES every minute of it. Aileen also speaks about her love and passion for the Advanced Placement (AP) courses she teaches.

Aileen taught World History and Geography there for three years before moving to Utah and taking a job with the Davis School District. In Davis School District, Aileen is the Social Studies Department Head, the district AP World History PLC Lead, and the Secondary Mentor for first year social studies teachers in the district.

Listen to his amazing episode with Aileen Bennett and how she blazed her own path into education.

Episode 15: Kelsi Flint – What makes a good instructional coach?

Kelsi Flint started her career in education teaching English and Chinese. She currently works in Davis School District as an instructional coach at Clearfield High School. Her honors English teacher changed Kelsi as a person, she changed Kelsi’s views on the world and what she wanted to do. Kelsi realized she needed to be in education.

To be honest it was tough. Her first few years as an educator she lived in frigid Wisconsin and got shingles due to working herself to the bone. However, with time and reflection Kelsi knew she needed to stay in education. As an educator she carries this quote, “Always assume good intent.”

Listen to her journey being a teacher in various school districts and why she loves the quote “ always assume good intent,” as an instructional coach.

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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