Mossi White calls herself a crusader for the right of every child to have access to the best public education that the United States can provide. She is a former President of the National School Board Association, the only president of this association to be elected to two terms. Recently she was the featured guest speaker in the Power of Teaching lecture series, sponsored by the Department of Teacher Education. Students and teachers from the McKay School attended the lecture and enjoyed White’s teaching insights, humor, and storytelling.
White began her lecture by describing her first encounter with the United States education system. White explained that when she was a young girl growing up in Norway shortly after World War II, a U.S. elementary school sent letters and candies to her classroom. Since access to sugar and sweets was scarce at the time, the experience was significant for White. From that time forward, she considered the United States as “the Land of the Sweets.”
Now, after working for decades in the U.S. education system, White described how public school teachers can help “sweeten” the future for their students. She outlined a few key ideas for teachers to keep in mind during their careers:
- “The future is being created every day in every classroom.” Teachers can do thousands of kind acts for their students that may seem inconsequential but overtime can help shape the attitudes and dispositions of the children in their classes.
- “The quality of education determines the future for the child and for the country.” Teachers should teach and model basics of responsibility, fairness, and collaboration, which are foundational elements of a sound democracy. By helping shape its youngest citizens, teachers help shape the community.
- “Every child can have a dream even if they have nothing else.” Teachers who work with students who have few resources learn quickly how rewarding it is to provide an “oasis” at school for children who are struggling. Some children carry the burden of the poor choices of their parents. Caring teachers help students keep their dreams alive and encourage them to use education as a way to a better, “sweeter” life.
Tamra Lybbert, a Clinical Faculty Associate in the Department of Education, who was present at the lecture, commented afterward, “Mossi White always inspires me to be a better person, member of the church, mother, citizen, and teacher. I love her enthusiasm for and devotion to our profession.”
Marie Tuttle, a professor in the Department of Teacher Education also attended the lecture and expressed similar positive feedback: “We often underestimate the influence of good teachers, which is well beyond the classroom. [Today’s lecture] reminded me of the famous quote by astronaut Christa McAuliffe: ‘I touch the future; I teach.’”
White’s mission to help children is compatible with two of the four Moral Dimensions of Teaching on which the programs and policies of the David O. McKay School of Education have been built: equal access to knowledge for all students and responsible stewardship of schools. Her public speaking, education advocacy, and conference and committee participation have affected the lives of incalculable numbers of administrators, teachers, and students nationwide.
22 March 2010