Leaving a Legacy of Education

Magazine Issue
Spring 2021


What would you do if you received an inheritance from your late father? For BYU alum Carol Johnson,* the decision was clear: make a memorial donation to the McKay School, where both she and her father learned the art of teaching. 

Johnson’s father started as a dairy farmer, but “dairy farming was really hard at that time unless you had a huge herd of cows and a very modernized farm,” she explained. “And he didn’t have [that].” So he decided to pivot to education—an interest that was inspired, in part, by his aunts, who were teachers. 

After earning a master’s degree in special education from the McKay School, Johnson’s father began his teaching career at Layton High School in northern Utah. “He loved it,” said Johnson. “He thought he was making a difference. He worked with kids who had some disabilities and was able to help them learn to read. Together they ran a canteen that sold school supplies and candy, which taught them all kinds of skills. He had a lot of success doing that.” 

Johnson herself wanted to be a teacher from the time she was a little girl, having been inspired by her father and by the great-aunts who had inspired him. “They were good examples to me, and I always loved books and loved school.” 

At BYU she chose to study elementary education because she wanted to teach every subject. Since earning her bachelor’s degree, she has used her training in many ways: as an elementary school teacher, a seminary teacher, a parent volunteer at her kids’ schools, and a mother of eight children. 

When Johnson’s father passed away and left her money, she decided to pass on that legacy to help others. “My dad always was a big donor, so I thought he would like that,” she said. While considering where to make her donations, she remembered the McKay School and its formative influence on her life and on the life of her father. 

“They always say that when you go to BYU, you should ‘enter to learn; go forth to serve,’” said Johnson, who had received scholarships when she was a student and wants to help the next generation of teachers. “It feels good to give back to the school where I did my teacher training. And I did it in my father’s name because he gave me the money. I thought that would honor him.” 

In addition to her donation, the service to education that Johnson’s family started long ago continues with one of her children who has embarked on a teaching career. That is four generations of teachers influencing generations to come. 

*This name has been changed because the donor, like some others, has chosen to remain anonymous. This quiet service is still welcomed by the grateful student recipients.