Spencer Weiler, a new professor joining the McKay School EdLF faculty this August, is teaching education finance, leadership, and law during fall semester. While Weiler’s class topics may be diverse, a common theme underscores all of his teaching: passion. Passion for public education, passion for social justice, and passion for equal opportunity in the classroom. “Students will get the sense of my passion and that focus on helping every child,” said Weiler. “I like the adage in public education that all means all. I think sometimes we say all, but we don't really mean all.”
Weiler grew up in Palo Alto, California, in what he described as an “idyllic childhood.” After serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Weiler earned a BA in history from BYU then went on to earn two master’s degrees from BYU, one in instructional science and the other in educational leadership. Weiler taught at Utah’s Orem High School before transitioning into a leadership role as an assistant principal in both Utah and Virginia. He then attended Virginia Tech to earn a PhD in educational leadership and spent the last twelve years working as an educational leadership professor at the University of Northern Colorado.
After recently moving with his wife and son from Colorado, Weiler is happy to have his entire family reunited in Utah. His daughter, Ellen, is pursuing a double major in biology and modern dance at the University of Utah while his son, Emerson, is hoping to participate in choir, band, and theater at his high school. His wife, Jen, previously worked at the Cancer Research Center in Fort Collins, Colorado, where she combined her background in psychology with her love for data research.
Weiler understands how teachers influence students’ career choices and academic development because of his own experience as a student. “When I was in high school, I was a goofball. I wasn't really disciplined,” Weiler said. “I had one teacher, in particular, who took an interest in me and really helped me. I want to be that teacher for other people.”
While Weiler enjoys teaching, he also has a passion for research and how it changes education systems. “One thing that I find incredibly gratifying about being a professor is that I can use my research to influence policy to positively impact education. That's kind of my motivator. I feel like I'm in a position where I can positively influence what we do in the name of education.”
Currently, Weiler’s research focuses on school safety, school finance litigation, and school faculties. “A colleague of mine and I are interviewing superintendents in school districts where they have educators that possess or have access to firearms as a way of increasing student safety,” Weiler said. “We're trying to capture in our research the lessons that these superintendents would have for other superintendents that may be considering this approach to increase safety within school buildings.”
Like his teaching, Weiler’s research interests also fall under a large umbrella. His research ranges from how funding for at-risk students is being divided between charter schools to the role school facilities play in school finance litigation; yet no matter the subject, Weiler’s research projects share one goal. “I always describe my research agenda as ensuring that all students have an equal educational opportunity.”
Weiler will continue advocating for equal opportunity as he begins teaching fall semester at BYU. “I have a passion for public education,” Weiler said. “I really try to stress concepts like social justice and equity in all the courses that I teach. I think it's imperative that public educators and aspiring leaders are mindful of every child, not just the majority.”
Want to learn more about the EdLF family? Click here to discover how Liz Darger is using her doctoral program to help both student-athletes and young women.
Writer: Emma Smith
Contact: Cynthia Glad 801-422-1922
All photos courtesy of Spencer Weiler.