The School Year Begins with Inspiration

Jason Hall

"When you work alone, you are good at one thing. When you work together, you can be good at everything. It is impossible to fail together," declared Jason Hall, the keynote speaker for college meetings of the McKay School during the 2009–2010 University Conference week.

Each year as fall semester begins, faculty and staff from the McKay School gather for University Conference, with meetings designed to refresh, renew, and reenergize for the coming school year. This year, Jason Hall’s insight into teaching and learning created an inspired beginning.

Jason shared two experiences that changed his life. Active and athletic as a young man, Jason loved to water ski. On a family trip to Lake Powell when he was 17, he ran down the Sand Mountain in Moki Canyon, dove into the water, and hit the bottom—severing his spinal cord. He was paralyzed from the chest down. When leaving the hospital, a social worker told him that he would never attend college, marry, or support a family because of his disability.

Jason defied this prediction and overcame many challenges. He graduated from BYU as student body president, married, and was extremely successful as an insurance and investment planner. However, in 1997, Jason faced another life-threatening challenge as he was nearly killed in an automobile accident. Following the accident, he spent over a year in the hospital and six years in therapy, undergoing over twenty surgeries.

Jason shared five things that helped him overcome the challenges brought on by his accidents. He noted that these approaches could be perfectly applied to teaching. They are to believe, look for solutions, set goals, cooperate, and care.

Believe: Jason talked about his little brother’s belief that Jason would someday walk, explaining the impact this belief had on him. Applying the effect to teachers and students, Jason said, "When you believe in yourself and your students, you empower them and their ability to believe in themselves."

 

Find Solutions: Expressing the need to be creative about solutions, Jason recounted how a counselor was creative about helping him graduate from high school with his class by giving course credits for some of his therapy. He remarked, "Judith Conner's creativity saved my life. If I hadn’t graduated with my class, I might have quit believing."

Set Goals: Jason emphasized the need to set specific and realistic goals and to write them down. He noted that the gospel encourages us to set goals, adding, "That’s what the gospel is all about, helping us to become better."

Cooperate: Noting the limitations of an individual’s resources, time, and imagination, he asked the faculty to question what could be accomplished working together as a department or as a college. "It is impossible to fail together," he declared.

Care: Jason reminded his audience of the two greatest commandments: to love God and to love our fellow man. He also quoted President Monson’s insight that this scripture story applies as if the Savior had said it to each of us personally. "At the end of the day you have to care more about people than grades," said Jason.

Other announcements at the University Conference include

Faculty MembersFaculty and staff were updated on changes that had or were occurring that would affect them during fall semester.

The physical education teaching major (K–12) and the coaching minor were reassigned to the Department of Teacher Education within the McKay School when the college of Health and Human Services was dissolved. Seven faculty members have joined the McKay School as a result. They include

  • Keven Prusak, physical education instructor
  • Carol Wilkinson, PETE program coordinator
  • Susan Graser, Elementary Coordinator
  • Todd Pennington, student teaching for PE majors
  • Maria Zanandrea, elementary pedagogy
  • Mel Olson, coaching minor director
  • Glenna Padfield, counselor

Teacher Education Chair Winn Egan described the position of clinical faculty associate as hybrid bridge spanners between the university teacher preparation program and school districts. The following are new CFAs for the 2009–2010 school year:

  • Amber Ostler, Nebo School District
  • Hollie Carlson, Alpine School District
  • Patty Spigarelli, Alpine School District
  • Lilly Taylor, Alpine School District
  • Beth Midgley, Provo School District
  • Larraine Nelson, Nebo School District
  • Doug Andersen, History and Social Studies

The McKay School filled two positions before BYU announced its hiring freeze last year. Additionally, the restructure of CITES included some old faces in new positions. Positions are as follows:

  • Dana Moss, secretary for Counseling Psychology and Special Education
  • Richard West, faculty member in Instructional Psychology and Technology
  • Paul Caldarella, Lynnette Christensen, and Gary Wall are now working in the CITES Education Research Division as the Positive Behavior Support Initiative has been assigned into that area.
  • Robert Patterson is now working in the CITES Education Support Division as a Liaison with the Wheatley Institution.
  • Tim Smith is working as the CITES Education Research Division Coordinator.
  • Tiffany Hall is working as the CITES Professional Development Division Coordinator.
  • David Wiley is working in the CITES Education Research Division, in charge of Open Learning.

Response to Intervention-RTI

Hollie Patterson and Amber Roderick-Landward from Canyons District made a presentation on response to intervention (RTI). They defined RTI as the following: an evidence-based education model for systematically supporting academic and behavior skills. This is done through the practice of providing high-quality instruction and intervention matched to student need to create learning environments that are effective, efficient, relevant, and durable.

Representatives from several of the partnership districts also presented a panel discussion on RTI during a working lunch. MSE faculty will continue to explore RTI as it pertains to McKay School.

21 September 2009