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Alumni Happenings

Alumni Happenings

McKay Today helps connect you to your former classmates and teachers.



Neil J. Flinders, emeritus McKay School professor and author, has written, “That which transcends mortality is that which is of greatest worth.” He has spent the major part of his life in the field of education, teaching and demonstrating the concept that divine revelation can and should be a frame for reason if we want the best kind of education. His doctoral dissertation and one of his books, Teach the Children: An Agency Approach to Education, illustrate that point. He further states that we can be a valid witness only to the truths that we strive to live.

Born in Ogden, Utah, he was reared on a farm by loving, hard-working parents struggling through the demanding life of the Great Depression. After graduating from high school, Flinders attended Weber College for two years and served a stake and later a full-time mission. After his mission he transferred to BYU, but the Korean War interrupted his schooling. For over a year he served in Korea with the U.S. Army Medical Corp. Back at BYU he met and married Joan Robertson.

Flinders thought a lot about life and priorities during his mission and army service. He felt a strong affinity to the gospel and to education and decided he would enter the seminary and institute program. One of his heroes was David O. McKay, who became a major influence in shaping his ideas on education.

At BYU Flinders trained under Boyd K. Packer and others to become a seminary teacher and teacher trainer. His first assignment was in the Utah Uintah Basin. Every summer he returned to BYU for more training, eventually earning both his master’s and doctorate degrees. His career and opportunities changed as the Church Educational System (CES) grew. For one decade of his 19 years with CES he served as director of research under Neal A. Maxwell and Joe J. Christensen in Salt Lake City.

In the 1970s Flinders transferred to BYU, where he spent the next 19 years researching and teaching courses on foundations of teaching. To answer the question “Can two teaching programs—religious and secular—be combined and teachers trained for both?” he helped develop the courses Religion and Education 491 and 492 and initiated the Laying the Foundations Symposium. He also researched and published with Paul Wangemann the basis of a Hebrew psychology for educators of the latter days. During this time he also served as president of the Far Western Philosophy of Education Society. He retired in 1998.

Flinders and his wife are the parents of seven children, 37 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. In the Church he has served as a member of the Sunday School General Board, bishop, stake president, temple ordinance worker, and missionary in the Nauvoo Mission simultaneously with work as a faculty member at the Joseph Smith Academy. His latest book is Joseph Smith: America’s Greatest Educator.



Class of 1998

After graduating from the University of Tokyo, Yoshihiko Ariizumi moved to Provo and earned a PhD in 1998 from the Department of Instructional Psychology and Technology. Based on his doctoral study, Ariizumi developed a method of enhancing performance in many aspects of life, including professional and personal development, which he called Chigen-iku. He then taught for 10 years at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.

When he suddenly became unemployed, he took a job in a local warehouse. Because of his attitude and applied philosophy, he was a valuable employee who was given added assignments in electrical engineering, a completely new field for him. Within a year this former teacher was assigned to be chief technology officer of OptiXal, where he continued to work for several years.

Ariizumi recently returned to BYU as an adjunct faculty member in linguistics and also continues as an engineering consultant. He and his wife, Shizuko, have two children and one granddaughter.


Class of 2008

Meredith Berglund is a native of Colorado Springs, Colorado. She earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. After five years of teaching in the Nebo School District, she decided to work from home and be with her children.

To continue using her teaching experiences and skills, she joined Academic Advancement, a private organization that provides in-home tutoring. As part of that organization Berglund went from a teaching assignment to a management position; she now owns the company. Her service benefits students who need extra encouragement and professional help to succeed in school.

Berglund loves being able to continue to teach and see her students progress. She feels she is having a positive influence on education in her community. She and her husband, Steven, are the parents of two daughters and live in Spanish Fork, Utah.


Class of 2008

Joseph South, who has pioneered online and blended-learning solutions for students and educators, is now the deputy director for the Office of Educational Technology in the U.S. Department of Education. He works with both the federal government and private industry to use technology to solve problems for educators.

South earned a master’s degree in 2000 and then a doctorate in the McKay School’s Department of Instructional Psychology and Technology in 2008. At the Shodor Education Foundation in North Carolina he developed his first online course, taught education professionals how to use technology more efficiently, and provided computational science resources for students.

Throughout his career he has worked on product development and initiatives for several companies. He developed blended-learning courses and an adaptive language-learning system that is still used at the Missionary Training Center in Provo. South lives in Virginia with his wife, Diana, and their two sons.


Cindy Wheeler Sutton, speech-language pathologist at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, a 2004 graduate of the Department of Communication Disorders, gave the 2014 McKay School of Education honored alumna lecture. Sutton’s topic, “The Power of Communication,” focused on the influence of voices on our personal lives and on society. She reminded her audience to be grateful to have a voice—not to take it for granted. She said, “Our communication has the power to calm fears, erase loneliness, ease pain, and build bridges. We unite together as we communicate.”

Sutton is a therapy supervisor and lead speech-language pathologist at the University of Utah hospital, where she oversees a team of physical, occupational, and speech therapists. She helps patients with communication impediments learn, and in some cases relearn, how to talk, eat, and swallow.

Sutton focuses on developing three characteristics necessary in her profession: (1) a strong science background, (2) the ability to solve problems, and (3) patience. As she applies these skills she takes on the role of counselor and educator. “In the end,” she said, “we help people overcome their amazing challenges; we can essentially become their guardian angels.”

A particular concern that Sutton has with communication problems is in our social environment. Things like bullying, gossiping, tearing down others, obsessing over social media, and texting constantly fuel her fears. “If you lost your voice today, what would be the last meaningful conversation you had with someone? What effect do your words have on others?”