The 3rd Annual BYU Latter-day Saints Society Conference

June 28, 2019

Keynote Speakers

Kim B. Clark, Commissioner of the Church Educational System

Elder Kim B. Clark was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 4, 2015. At the time of his call he had been serving as the president of Brigham Young University–Idaho since 2005. He served as a member of the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy, Idaho Area, from 2007 to 2014. He is currently serving as the Commissioner of the Church Educational System. Elder Clark received his BA, MA, and PhD, all in economics, from Harvard University. He became a faculty member at the Harvard Business School in 1978 and was named dean of that school in 1995. He served in that capacity until the summer of 2005, when he was named the president of Brigham Young University–Idaho.

Brent L. Top, Professor of Church History and Doctrine, Former Dean of Religious Education, Brigham Young University

Brent L. Top is a professor of Church history and doctrine and former dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University. He currently serves as a Richard L. Evans Professor of Religious Understanding. He received all of his degrees from BYU: a BA in history, an MA in instructional media, and a PhD in instructional science and technology. Before joining the BYU Religious Education faculty in 1987, he worked for the Church Educational System as a released-time seminary teacher, an institute teacher, and an administrator. He held the endowed Professorship in Moral Education for two years before his call as president of the Illinois Peoria Mission (2004–7).

Virginia Pearce Cowley, Author and Former Member of the Young Women General Presidency

Virginia Pearce Cowley was born in Denver, Colorado, and reared in Salt Lake City as the third child of Gordon B. and Marjorie Pay Hinckley. She and her late husband, James R. Pearce, are the parents of six children and have twenty-seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She is married to Joseph F. Cowley Jr. Sister Cowley received a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in social work, both from the University of Utah. Sister Cowley served as first counselor in the General Young Women Presidency. She has also served on the Primary General Board and has been a ward and stake Relief Society president. She served a mission with Church Public Affairs in Salt Lake City. She currently lives in the Cottonwood Stake and teaches Sunday School. She has authored and coauthored several books and enjoys spending time with family and friends and learning new things.

Additional Speakers

C. Terry Warner, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Brigham Young University

C. Terry Warner is a professor emeritus of philosophy at Brigham Young University. Though reared in the San Francisco Bay Area, Warner descends from some of the earliest settlers of Manti and Spanish Fork. He and his wife, the former Susan Lillywhite, ran the educational gauntlet through BYU and Yale University in Connecticut and together have engendered ten children, each now married with exactly 5.3 children apiece. Some of the eldest of these grandchildren are also marrying and propagating, which is making the Warner annual reunion breathtakingly large. As a BYU professor for forty-two years, Warner taught philosophy, together with some scripture courses. With an equal passion, he loved the teaching and hated the grading. In the years leading up to his retirement, he also served the university as the founding curator of the Education in Zion exhibit in the Joseph F. Smith Building. In years on leave from the university, he was a visiting senior member at Linacre College, Oxford University, and founded the Arbinger Institute, a consulting and training firm. He is the author of the book Bonds That Make Us Free.

Norman C. Hill, Associate Managing Director, Ballard Center, Brigham Young University, and former Ghana Accra West Mission President

Norman Hill is a former mission president in both the Ghana Accra West Mission and the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission. After retiring from a career with ExxonMobil, where he was director for training and development, he has spent the past three years as associate managing director of the Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance at BYU. He is the author of two books—When the Road Gets Rough and The Road Back—published by Bookcraft (now Deseret Book), a dozen articles in Church magazines, and four professional books on counseling and development. In preparing for this presentation, he interviewed past and present Sunday School General Presidency members and dozens of both Church and professional teachers about collaboration benefits and challenges. This workshop will share interview summaries and suggestions about teacher council meetings and how teachers can better share teaching experiences and suggestions with each other.

Amy Miner, Curriculum Director, Alpine School District

Amy Miner taught elementary school in Jordan School District before going on to receive her master’s degree in children’s literature at Brigham Young University and her PhD from Utah State University in curriculum and instruction. For over twenty-five years, in Utah, New York, Texas, and Colorado, Miner has provided professional development training, curriculum consulting, and conducted research on integrated instruction and deep learning for students. Dr. Miner worked as an assistant professor in teacher education at Brigham Young University for seven years and as a research associate for BYU CITES. She is currently working as a curriculum director for Alpine School District and is responsible for professional development for K12 administrators and teachers. She also facilitates the research and resource design of deep learning and the 6Cs. She is married to Dallen Miner, and they have five amazing adult children. She is currently serving in her ward to improve effective gospel instruction at church and in the home.

Beth Johnston, Founding Principal, Endeavour Elementary School

Beth Johnston graduated in education from Utah State University and received her MEd in administration from BYU. She opened Endeavour Elementary, an award-winning public school that consistently ranks number one in achievement in the State of Utah. Johnston was selected as Utah’s National Distinguished Principal and was also chosen as a panelist for a NASA workshop held in Washington, DC. She currently serves on the Davis Schools Foundation Board. She is married to Michael Johnston. They have six children and nineteen grandchildren, and on most Sundays you can find them all having dinner together at their home. Beth loves children, reading, and hiking on the mountain trails behind her home. She and her husband will leave this September to serve a mission at the Palmyra New York Temple.

David Morgan, Licensed Psychologist, Vancouver, Washington

David Morgan is a graduate of Brigham Young University with a doctorate in counseling psychology. He has worked as a psychologist in private practice for almost twenty years. Over a quarter century ago, he married his best friend, and they have six children together—including two daughters-in-law, one grandson, and a granddaughter on the way. Morgan is the author of two books: My God Hath Been My Support and Peace Be Unto You: Anxiety Management Using Gospel Principles. He is convinced that the gospel of Jesus Christ holds multiple keys to resolving mental health issues. He currently serves as the elders quorum president, but his favorite calling was seminary teacher. His favorite hobby is going to Disneyland, and he has been over one hundred times.

Eric Orton, Senior Instructional Designer, Brigham Young University

Eric Orton is a senior instructional designer with Brigham Young University’s Division of Continuing Education. He works on semester-bound BYU Online courses, primarily in the areas of religious education, exercise sciences, and health. He previously worked in instructional design and faculty development at both Boise State University and the University of Iowa. He holds a BS in elementary education from BYU and a master’s degree in instructional technology from Utah State University. Outside of work, he can be found playing softball, hunting, fishing, or skiing, depending on the season. He is husband to Rose of Sharon and father to two daughters.

Eva Witesman, Associate Professor, Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics, Brigham Young University

Eva Witesman, PhD, is an associate professor at the Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics at Brigham Young University. She is an expert using data-informed management to improve public outcomes. She has recently begun an initiative at BYU called “Creating the Virtuous Organization,” which seeks to strengthen the moral compass of our organizational landscape. She hopes to use her decades of study in the nonprofit and government sectors to improve the nature and function of the for-profit marketplace.

Chris Crippen, Director of the Center for Service and Learning, Brigham Young University

Chris Crippen was appointed director of the Center for Service and Learning (Y-Serve) at Brigham Young University in 2014. He is originally from Lake Elsinore, California, and has lived in Elk Ridge, Utah, since 2005. He and his wife, Sherelda, have six sons and two daughters. Crippen has spent the first half of his career as a public school teacher and administrator in both California and Utah. He studied elementary education at both Brigham Young University–Hawaii and Brigham Young University, graduating with a BS in elementary education in 1999. He continued his studies, earning an MA in education with an emphasis on curriculum and instruction from Azusa Pacific University (2001), and received his educational administration licensure from Southern Utah University (2013). He has coached volleyball for twenty-two years. He loves music, sports, the outdoors, and serving others.

Lorae Bowden, MEd, Homemaker and Mother of Nine

Lorae Bowden is a homemaker and mother of nine. She graduated with a BS in elementary education from Brigham Young University and recently completed a master of education degree in instructional design from Western Governor’s University. She has taught elementary school, preschool, and seminary, and presented workshops on her book, Centsible Meals: How to Feed Your Family for Less. Along with food budgeting, her research encompasses family organization and practical technical writing for undergraduate chemistry students. Her organization research includes studying the bees in her backyard hive as well as the tiny army that she made herself and which resides in her home. She is the oldest of eleven children, and much of her expertise comes from participating in family councils as a missionary, welfare, education, and family history committee chair in her family growing up, and as a mother and committee adviser to her current children.

Gerrit J. Dirkmaat, Assistant Professor of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University

Gerrit J. Dirkmaat is an assistant professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University. He received his PhD in history in 2010 from the University of Colorado. He worked as a historian and writer for the Joseph Smith Papers Project from 2010 to 2014 and has continued to work as a volunteer historian and writer for the project. He served as a volume editor/historian for Documents, Volume 1; Documents, Volume 3; Documents, Volume 8; and Administrative Records, Volume 1, The Council of Fifty Minutes. He is the author, along with Michael Hubbard MacKay, of From Darkness unto Light: Joseph Smith’s Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon and serves as the editor of the academic journal Mormon Historical Studies.

J. Gordon Daines, Supervisor of Reference Services and Department Chair, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library

J. Gordon Daines III is supervisor of Reference Services, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. He previously served as the Brigham Young University archivist. Gordon was appointed Special Collections Department Chair in September 2014 and will serve in that capacity through September 2020. He holds a master’s degree in history from the University of Chicago, a certificate in archives and records management from Western Washington University, and a doctorate in educational leadership from BYU. He has written on many topics, including primary source literacy, preserving digital records, finding aid design, business process management for archives, the Boise Carnegie Library, William E. Borah, and the history of BYU.

Monica Gibson, ESOL District Coordinator—Indian Hill Exempted Village School District

Monica Gibson has sixteen years of teaching experience in TESOL and gifted education. She earned her BS in history teaching with minors in humanities and TESOL K-12 from Brigham Young University. She later earned her MEd in special education with a concentration in gifted and talented from Xavier University. She has experience teaching in Utah, New York City, and Cincinnati. She currently serves as the district TESOL specialist and coordinator for the Indian Hill School District. As a member of her district’s gifted intervention specialist team, her advocacy for gifted English language learners (ELLs) has helped support her district’s efforts to make gifted services more equitable for underidentified populations. She is an advocate for refugee students and all linguistic minorities. She has four young children and manages her husband’s business. She enjoys travel, bookkeeping, baking and all things logistical.

Amanda Marie Sopko, ESOL District Coordinator—Indian Hill Exempted Village School District

Amanda Marie Sopko grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and currently lives in West Chester, Ohio. She earned her bachelor’s degree in middle childhood education with concentrations in mathematics, language arts, and reading from Kent State University, where she later earned her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction as a mathematics specialist. She also earned an endorsement in gifted education from Xavier University. This year marks her sixteenth year of teaching. Currently, she works as a sixth-grade math/STEM teacher and STEM coordinator at Indian Hill Middle School. She also teaches a section of sixth-grade Discovery, the district’s gifted pull-out program. Additionally, Amanda advises the Future City Team, which was awarded fourth place in the state in the 2019 regional competition. She is currently a member of the school’s leadership team, district math curriculum revision committee, district gifted intervention specialists team, and Learning-Centered Culture Committee. Her interests and skills include curriculum design, differentiated instruction, planning and executing schoolwide events, educational research, creating STEM experiences for her students and children, running, and presenting at educational conferences.

Karma Maples, Gifted Education Specialist in Wilmington, North Carolina

Karma Maples is an academically and intellectually gifted teacher at Codington Elementary School in New Hanover County, North Carolina. She has worked in the education field since graduating with a BS in elementary education from BYU in 1980. Her first working years were spent teaching in a multigrade open classroom in Lexington, Kentucky, where she taught a hundred students in grades 1–3 with a team of three other teachers. In 1984 she received her MA in elementary education from the University of Kentucky. Since 1993, she has worked as a gifted education specialist in Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina. She has been an active member in local, state, and national organizations for gifted education and has often presented at state and national conferences. She provides leadership by serving as chair of several school and district committees, offering school and district training, mentorships, and collaborating with a local university to provide programs to support parents of gifted students.

Melissa Adams, Homemaker and Mother of Six

Melissa Rockwood Adams grew up in Batesville, Indiana. She graduated from the University of Utah with an honors bachelor of arts in elementary education and a gifted endorsement from Utah State University. She taught fifth grade in a gifted magnet classroom at M. Lynn Bennion Elementary before having six children, ages ranging from four to nineteen. She has her Suzuki piano certification and taught piano for many years. She served as PTA president for two years, started an art program at two elementary schools, and has organized neighborhood babysitting co-ops, which she has run for over ten years. She has had many callings, including Relief Society president, Young Women president, Primary chorister, youth Sunday School teacher, and Primary teacher. She currently teaches Sunday School. In her spare time, she enjoys learning, organizing, creating photo albums, and traveling to tropical destinations. She wants to be a Disney princess when she grows up, preferably Sleeping Beauty.

Rebecca Thomas, President, Ms. Thomas Presents, LLC

Rebecca Thomas graduated from BYU in 1976 with a major in elementary education and a minor in music. She worked in Washington, DC, as an administrative assistant for the American Vocational Association and then went home to Ohio in 1978 to start her teaching career in Kent, Ohio. After five years at Kent, she moved to Florida, where she continued to teach. From her first year of teaching to her last, she used music, dance, and drama as a regular part of her lessons. Throughout her years of teaching, she has received three Disney awards for creativity in her classroom and was recognized for “Excellence in Economics” by the University of Central Florida. During her years of teaching, she was Teacher of the Year and was honored at a national educators’ convention for being the most influential teacher in Orange County, Florida.

Jared Bowden, Professor of Chemistry, Brigham Young University–Idaho

Jared Bowden is a professor of chemistry at BYU–Idaho. He was born and raised in Ogden, Utah, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Weber State University. He fell in love with his wife, Lorae, while they worked at a Boy Scout camp. Together they are the parents of nine children. He worked for seven years as an analytical chemist before returning to obtain his PhD in biochemistry from Montana State University. He has embraced his inner nerd and enjoys learning about topics ranging from how the cosmos was formed to the inner workings of cells on a molecular level. Interesting dinner conversations often result. He also loves to fish, hike, raise bees, and be outside enjoying God’s creations. He believes that our curiosity about our world comes from our innate divine nature and ability to become like God.

Aubrianne Hilton Neubert, Institute Instructor, Jackson, Michigan

Aubrianne Hilton Neubert received her BA in education from BYU. She taught seminary in Utah County and institute in Missouri and Michigan. She and her husband, Jonathan, are the parents of two daughters. Sister Neubert is currently an institute instructor for the BYU Pathways program in the Lansing, Michigan, area.

Brian G. Mead, Manager of Student Learning: Adapted Needs Advisor for Seminaries and Institutes of Religion

Brian G. Mead is a manager of student learning: adapted needs adviser for Seminaries and Institutes of Religion for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He began his career teaching seminary and institute. He received all of his degrees from BYU: a BA in neuroscience, an MA in psychology, and a PhD in applied social psychology.

Jonathan J. Wisco, Associate Professor, Boston University School of Medicine

Jonathan J. Wisco is associate professor and director of the Laboratory for Translational Anatomy of Degenerative Diseases and Developmental Disorders, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Boston University School of Medicine. The lab is interested in the anatomical validation of innovative neuroimaging and surgical techniques related to Alzheimer’s disease pathophysiology and to vocal fold structural physiology. In addition to basic science research, he directs the national program Anatomy Academy. The program was established in 2012 to teach anatomy, physiology, and nutrition concepts to elementary school children to combat the obesity epidemic through educational intervention and to inspire kids to pursue science as a career. He is interested in the educational scholarship of service-learning as an engaged learning pedagogical technique.