SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Every year, National Teacher Appreciation Day is celebrated on the first Tuesday of May to show gratitude to educators across the country and recognize the crucial role that they play in our lives. Given everything we’ve been through during the COVID-19 pandemic, the event takes on a whole new meaning this year. Educators had to learn and adapt to the new and unfamiliar territory of remote learning in order to keep everyone safe and minimize the disruption to their coursework. Many of them took on extra hours to prepare virtual lesson plans and some went above and beyond to help families who didn’t have the resources for their children to thrive in a home learning environment.
Three local teachers joined ABC4’s Emily Florez to talk what inspired them to become an educator, what their favorite part of teaching was, how they navigated the switch between in-person and remote learning during the pandemic, what were some of the challenges and difficulties they faced, and the ways that students and parents can show support to Utah teachers.
John Arthur, who is a 6th grade teacher at Meadowlark Elementary School was chosen as the 2021 Utah Teacher of the Year. He is also one of four finalists for the 2021 National Teacher of the Year award. He was one of three speakers at Glendale Middle School on Wednesday for First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s visit to Utah. His principal and parents of his students said Arthur devotes extra time to help his students succeed at school and in life, even taking one of them to chess and debate tournaments and helping tutoring others no matter what grade they’re in.
Heather Reich, who is a 6th grade teacher at Majestic Elementary School is one of 10 educators honored with the 2021 Utah Education Association and doTERRA Excellence in Teaching Award. She attended and spoke at every single Jordan School District board meeting from the moment she heard about initial plans to shut her school down to the moment administrators changed their mind. A former student of hers said she makes learning fun while still motivating them to do their classwork.
Renee Pinkney, social studies teacher at Park City High School and also vice president of the Utah Education Association has taught in Utah schools for 24 years. She was elected by her public school teacher peers in a statewide vote during February 2019 to serve a three-year term with the UEA. She also served as the Eastern Utah UniServ for the past three years.
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Arthur, Reich, and Pinkney, click on the video at the top of the article.
Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.