By Mark Lyman
Being a full-time seminary teacher in the Church Education System is the burning desire of many BYU students. Yet, of the roughly 400 students that sign up for the initial Religion 370 class, only 20 students will make the jump to a profession in teaching for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Adam Lim?n started thinking about teaching seminary while on his mission, and thought it would be great to teach the gospel for a career.
“I didn”t see anything that could be better than getting paid to teach the gospel,” said Lim?n, 24, from Hutchinson, Kansas, majoring in marketing communications.
He was eager to start the two-year process leading up to a career in the CES, yet went into Religion 370 not knowing what to expect.
“I was shocked when I walked into that 370 class, and it”s full – a big classroom full of people,” Lim?n said.
“It really kind of puts things in perspective, how competitive it is,” said Michael Christensen, 23, from Orem, majoring in broadcast journalism.
In Phillip Boren”s Religion 370 class, 400 people attend every year. The class is designed to, “evaluate and screen trainees for entrance into Religion 471,” as outlined in a handout given to potential teachers. This course introduces the profession, objectives, and values of CES.”
Instructors place an emphasis in the first week that only 4 or 5 percent of the students will be hired to teach seminary, Christensen said.
“Let”s face it, the odds aren”t in your favor,” Lim?n said.
Of those 400 enthusiastic students, about 170 will get the nod to go into Religion 471.
The focus in Rel 471, which is taught by Robb Jones, is labeled as more of a hands-on experience, Lim?n said.
“It was just really specific and more focused, because we had to prepare to teach for 10 days – on our own,” Lim?n said.
The 10-day experience, that Lim?n spoke of, is the final project opportunity used as a measuring stick for advancement to part-time teaching in a seminary class for a year. This part-time teaching is often referred to as “opting.”
The focus in Religion 471 is placed more on applying and practicing the teaching skills that students learn, Christensen said.
Neither Lim?n nor Christensen were accepted to be student teachers, but both urge students who want to learn more about teaching to take Religion 370 and 471, despite the odds.
“I love the classes, I thought they were great,” Lim?n said. “I love the teachers and felt that I learned a lot.”
As an Elder”s Quorum teacher, Lim?n said he implements techniques learned in his pursuit to become a seminary teacher.
Christensen is quick to note that these two classes are not easy.
“You have to be really serious because it does take a lot of time, it”s a lot of classes and effort,” he said.