The influence of the McKay School of Education reaches much further than we sometimes imagine. Back in 1979, my grandmother graduated from the McKay School and began her teaching career by taking a position at Vineyard Elementary School in Orem. At that time, teaching jobs were plentiful and my grandmother, then in her mid-40s, knew that her job would bring much-needed stability to her family’s finances.
Grandma became a highly respected educator and, by the end of her career, was easily the most requested teacher at her school. During her last year of teaching, she had occasion to mentor a brand new, struggling fourth-grade teacher. She freely shared of her knowledge gained from her time at BYU and her years of experience as a teacher. As this new teacher puts it, “Mrs. Broderick saved me.” Mr. Harward taught for over 30 years and became one of the most respected and oft-requested teachers at Vineyard Elementary School. One of my own children was a pupil in his class during his final year of teaching, and she loved him for his kindness, generosity, and skill in helping her learn. He loved my daughter because of the unexpected connection he had with her and my grandmother.
The influence of the McKay School within my family does not stop there. My grandmother did not graduate alone in 1979. Among all of the graduates that year were two of my grandmother’s daughters: my aunt and my mother. My mother taught for 30 years, which is a bit of a rarity today, but even rarer is the fact that she taught the same grade at the same school for all 30 years! Throughout every summer of my childhood, I spent a few hours per week helping my mother prepare her classroom for the upcoming school year. At first, I helped hang laminated letters of the alphabet, a calendar, bulletin boards, and a little weather station. As I grew up, I became the “muscle” needed to arrange desks and chairs and put the boxes in the cupboards.
Then, during the school year, I watched my mother work tirelessly to make sure her students had every opportunity to learn. I watched her cry when she dropped my youngest brother off at daycare in the morning. I watched her cry when one of her students suffered in some way. When I asked my mother for help on my own homework, she would shift into what my siblings and I called “teacher mode.” She didn’t really yell at me, but she would start talking to me like she would to a room full of first-graders. By the end of her tenure at Blanding Elementary School, she was highly respected and one of the most requested teachers at the school. My exposure to the day-to-day life of a dedicated teacher, educated at the McKay School, led me to have the utmost respect and admiration for teachers and the teaching profession.
So, even though I did not choose teaching for my own career, I am here working in support of those who will become teachers. In my role as controller of the McKay School, I am in a unique position in that I have a strong, working knowledge of how the school operates financially. Like most large universities, BYU is very well funded, but the source of those funds is not the same. We are given a special charge to responsibly expend funds that were donated voluntarily by good, faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What I experience as the controller is a sustained effort from everyone in the McKay School to use the funds not just responsibly, but in a meaningful way to our students’ educational experience.
Funding is an integral part of what we do here, but there’s something even more important. I have the opportunity to interact with our faculty and staff from all departments, not just Teacher Education, and my interactions all have the same underpinnings: faculty and staff striving to provide a quality educational experience for our students. Did the faculty and staff way back in 1979 know that my grandmother and mother would influence me and so many students and teachers over the subsequent 43 years? What about the here and now? Do we know and remember that our students will take what they’ve learned here and influence many current and future students and teachers? As we go about our day-to-day work, let us not forget the influence our students might have both throughout the world and right here at the David O. McKay School of Education.