I came to religion as a source to nurture and support my energy for accomplishing my goals in life.
I was filled with ambition as I graduated from high school. My peers were off to college all over the country. I headed to Hollywood. To compliment Hollywood I started college as a theatre arts major. I did well for only working at it for a little over a year.
I left it abruptly. How far I would have gone, I’m not sure, but it would have been filled with practice, training, experience, small breakthroughs, and the typical disappointments.
After my fling as an actor, I turned to religion. I decided to go on a two year Mormon mission. To prepare, I attended religion classes. I was interviewed by local priesthood leaders. I then received a letter from the President of the Church giving me my assignment – northern Argentina.
Before I went to Argentina, I attended a language training school at Brigham Young University, and took the equivalent of 15 units of Spanish immersion.
All this before I set foot in Argentina. Even at that young age I was impressed with how well I had been prepared and trained.
Based partly on this, I decided to become a professional teacher in the church’s educational system when I returned home after the mission.
For ten years I worked every day at being a religion teacher. I taught high school for two years, junior college for four years, and four years at the university level.
The good thing about my teaching was I was part of a system that provided full financial support for my graduate studies, plenty of professional advancement, good pay, excellent benefits, and the most extraordinary inservice program a religion teacher could ask for. For example, the system paid for my wife and me to spend over three weeks in the Mediterranean area studying biblical and related historical sites. That opportunity repeated itself several times through their various educational programs.
Every month I reported to a high ranking church leader who often was one of the most successful business people in the community. I was expected to grow my influence through teaching and organizing as many local LDS college students as possible. Of course, that impact was to be a positive one. I was given near absolute access to local resources to do this.
By the time I decided to pursue other career opportunities outside teaching, I was surprised how prepared I was to engage professionals at the highest levels of business and media, and ULTIMATELY became aware that I was more prepared.
For me this is a key for improving public education in America. Spend a lot of money educating, training, giving superb inservice experiences, and supporting teachers. Make sure teachers have direct and immediate access to the best resources in the community, both human and technological.
I am convinced education will become the most enlightened endeavor in America over the next decade or two. From pre-school to graduate school, education will be the endeavor humans most want to participate in, because they will be in contact with the best product society has produced – TEACHERS.