When I became the dean of the McKay School of Education, the school’s previous mission statement needed revision. Over several months the McKay School faculty, staff, and administrators focused on this challenge, but every proposed statement read like a mission statement from any other university. As we reflected on what makes BYU’s McKay School different from other teacher preparation units, we recognized our most significant distinction: Jesus Christ, the Ultimate Educator, is our Exemplar. We respect knowledgeable, skilled, and effective teachers, but we attempt to pattern our teaching and our lives after Him. So our mission statement began with “We strive to model the attributes of Jesus Christ, the Master Teacher.”
Since the McKay School prepares a variety of professionals (e.g., teachers, speech therapists, counseling psychologists, instructional designers), we chose the designation “prepare professionals.” But the statement “We strive to model the attributes of Jesus Christ, the Master Teacher, as we prepare professionals” could apply to most Christian universities. We needed to think about how we prepare professionals differently as Latter-day Saints. So we specified “with an eternal perspective,” acknowledging that we are preparing professionals not merely for mortality but for eternity. Thus our complete mission statement emerged: “We strive to model the attributes of Jesus Christ, the Master Teacher, as we prepare professionals who educate with an eternal perspective.”
Each academic year the McKay School selects a new theme to go with our mission statement. This year the theme is taken from Moses 7:18: “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” An essential goal for us for becoming a Zion-like community is that we are striving to make our workplace a refuge—a place in which individuals feel safe and find joy.
We could not teach like the Master or become a Zion-like professional community without faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, and friends. This issue of McKay Today provides a sampling of some of the current work inspired by these goals. Thank you for your continued contributions and support.