McKay School in the News

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BYU president finger paints with preschoolers to celebrate Week of the Young Child


With his hands covered in pudding, Brigham Young University President Kevin J Worthen turned to the preschooler next to him and asked, “Are you having fun?”


Along with McKay School of Education Dean Mary Anne Prater and BYU Teacher Education Department Chair Michael Tunnell, Worthen participated in a statewide finger painting challenge as part of the Week of the Young Child, an annual celebration of young learners. They painted side by side with preschoolers from the BYU Child and Family Studies Laboratory Tuesday morning.


“It was a lot of fun,” Worthen said. “It isn’t often I get to finger paint and have it be part of the job.”


Before the finger painting began, Worthen read White Rabbit’s Color Book to the preschool class. He engaged the children by having them guess what color the rabbit would become.


“I love that story,” one preschooler said.


The children rotated through five finger painting activities: painting with pudding, painting with gel paint, light painting, painting on an easel, and painting with paint-filled ice cubes. The ice cubes were a favorite for many.


“It was cold,” Worthen said. “It was fun because you could see how the colors would mix together as the ice cubes melted.”


Mixing colors together was one of the reasons Worthen took some time to come finger painting, but the the chance to recognize the work of the BYU Child and Family Studies Lab and the importance of education for young children was the bigger reason.


“It’s important to teach children while they are very young,” said Worthen. “Teaching teachers to know how to work with young children is an important part of BYU’s mission. Having a program where our students are actually teaching kids makes it much more meaningful for our students. Then they will be prepared as they go out and teach in the community.”


Before Worthen, Prater and Tunnell left, the preschoolers thanked them for coming.


“We had a lot of fun doing that,” one preschooler said.


The Week of the Young Child is sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This year the Utah System of Higher Education Early Childhood Committee and the Utah division of NAEYC have collaborated to raise awareness of the importance of “celebrating our youngest learners,” which is the theme for this year’s Week of the Young Child.


“I enjoy those kinds of activities because they provide a learning opportunity,” Prater said. “I talked to the kids about what colors they were using and what shapes they were making. I asked them if they could write the first letter of their name. One girl at the end said, ‘This was so fun,’ and that made it all worthwhile.”


The challenge kicked off on March 28, 2015 at the annual Utah Early Childhood Conference, when author Richard Paul Evans challenged Utah Governor Gary Herbert and the president of Weber State University, Charles A. Wight, to finger paint with a young child. Wight then challenged all university presidents across the state of Utah as well as deans of the colleges of the education to accept the challenge.


University presidents statewide have accepted the finger painting challenge. David W. Pershing, president of the University of Utah, specifically challenged Worthen on Monday, April 13.


The Utah Association for the Education of Young Children hopes to have more than 25,000 leaders and citizens join the finger painting challenge to call attention to the importance of educating young children.


To see more pictures from the event, see our gallery.


Writer: Lindsey Williams


Contact: Cynthia Glad (801) 422-1922

Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts, & Letters Honors McKay School Professor


Congratulations to Richard Sudweeks, director of the McKay School of Education’s Educational Inquiry, Measurement, and Evaluation PhD program. He was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award from the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts, & Letters at their annual conference Friday, March 27, 2015.


Sudweeks is the first BYU professor to win the award since 2008. According to the academy, the award honors individuals for their exceptional service to education in Utah. Recipients are typically academics whose efforts and contributions are beyond the normal expectations of their positions.

Globalization and Local Teacher Education


In the United States, child sexual abuse is reported almost 90,000 times a year, but the numbers of unreported incidents of abuse is far greater because so many of the children are afraid to tell anyone what has happened, according to the 2000 Bureau of Justice Statistics. Dr. Lane Fischer, faculty member in the Department of Counseling Psychology & Special Education of the McKay School, and his Affinity research team are researching ways to prevent sex offenders from working with children in schools.

Fischer began researching the psychometric properties of existing tests of sexual interests in 1997. He and the students on his research team have conducted seven studies using a new instrument, the Affinity, which may have utility in the screening and selection of elementary school teachers. The current Affinity team consists of doctoral students, Joy Wiechmann, Heather Stephenson, Rod Veas, and Sierra Baird with undergraduates Zach Featherstone and Nick Norman.

Some research suggests that between kindergarten and high school graduation 25 percent of students experience a hands-on sexual offense by a teacher, coach, or administrator in schools. A more conservative estimate from research is 7 percent.

“That is still 7 out of 100,” said Fischer. “That’s a lot.” According to Fischer, Many sex offenders have multiple victims, so it is difficult to know how many teachers, coaches, or administrators in the schools are actually offending against children.

" We are trying to help. We are not on a witch hunt." The goal of Fischer’s team is to develop techniques to screen those applying for employment in elementary and residential schools for the potential to offend against children. If research can validate the patterns that indicate that a prospective employee is, or has the potential to become a sex offender, school districts may be able to prevent that person from having access to children in schools. “We are trying to help — we are not on a witch hunt,” said Fischer.

The team may shortly conduct research in the Colorado and Utah Departments of Corrections to test known sex offenders and pedophiles. This may validate Fischer’s norm-referenced approach to screening and diagnosis of sex offenders.

“We face a significant challenge to protect the civil rights of prospective employees while at the same time protecting the safety of children in the schools,” said Fischer. “It is undetermined at this point whether we can actually accomplish our goal, but when we consider the amount of suffering incurred by sexual offenses, we are motivated to continue our work.”

The following facts about sexual abuse of children are given by The National Center for Victims of Crime:

  • A sex offender can be described as having unrestrained sexuality that is not about relationships.

  • In contrast, pedophiles, have an exclusive attraction to little children and build a relationship with them.

  • It is estimated that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will have experienced sexual abuse while younger than 18 years.

  • Most children are abused by someone they know and trust; 50 percent of offenders were acquaintances or friends.

  • Considering all sexual assaults reported, 67 percent of victims are under the age of 18 years.

McKay School of Education alumni gathering: A growing family tradition

A simple college tailgate party honoring alumni from the McKay School of Education has grown into a homecoming pre-game tradition for some families.

The lunch took place on Saturday afternoon, outside the BYU conference center. The McKay School awarded raffle prizes to alumni and their families, and to document the event, a photographer was available at the lunch to take portraits of the guests.

Early Reading! Good Free App of the Day: Hideout by Brigham Young University

McKay School faculty member Barbara Culatta released a free reading app in the spring to help children learn to read. The app recently received a very positive review from Early Reading and was named Early Reading's Good App of the Day.


Read the review at