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“We are all teachers in everything we say and do"

Kerstin Brignone graduated from BYU in 1985 with a BA in English secondary education. She returned to her home in Washington to teach English to children of non-native English speakers during the summer. In the school year she taught in a middle school in Corning, NY. She again returned to the migrant camp the following summer. It was then that she married Michael Brignone, a young man who had been in her home stake. Since marrying, she has focused her energies on caring for her family and volunteering at her children’s schools. She recently returned to a part-time position working with second graders to develop their reading and writing skills.

Brignone has six children and currently lives in New York. Her oldest daughter, Laura, is a student at Stanford University. Laura credits her mother with nurturing her educational goals. “She encouraged me to give my best effort, to be patient, and to work through large projects using smaller goals,” said Laura. “She taught me to make my own choices. She’s very supportive of me.”

Her children describe Brignone as having “the patience of Job.” Brignone is very creative, empathetic to others, and an excellent listener. “She’s always ready to serve others,” continued Laura. “I really admire her dedication to her family.”

According to Laura, her mother’s training as a teacher had an absolute, direct effect on the lives of her children. Brignone agrees that a parent’s training as a teacher has a direct effect of the lives of their children and grandchildren, as she learned from personal experience. “My father, Robert Safsten, also received his teaching training from BYU,” she said. “He lived the values and life lessons he learned here, and they changed my life as he taught me and I watched him treat others.” Brignone’s grandmother, Helen Ellsworth, also graduated from BYU’s teaching program in 1932.

Brignone commented that it was not the specific classes she took at the McKay School, but rather the life lessons she learned that made such a difference for her. “We are all teachers in everything we say and do, whether in the classroom, in casual settings, or in our homes,” said Brignone “We should try to live our lives so we never teach a flawed lesson.”

July 2, 2008