By Krystin Anderson
A project that has been in the works for almost a decade is finally making visible progress in the Joseph F. Smith Building. From the majestic spiral staircase to the broad glass windows and tall white panels, the exhibit is a tribute to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? educational heritage.
The ?Education in Zion? exhibition, which was planned in conjunction with the building of the JFSB, will fill the second and third floor areas around the spiral staircase with stories of the educational pioneers that have made BYU and the Church Education System what they are.
Terry Warner is the project coordinator and has been involved with it since its beginnings in the late ?90s. He said the project is about telling people, specifically students and faculty members, the tales of LDS educational pioneers.
?We?ve told the stories of our pioneer ancestors ? but we haven?t really brought together before the stories of our educational ances-tors, and they?re wonderful stories,? Warner said.
Warner said it is important to know about these individuals because education is so essential to the LDS faith.
?That tradition [of education] is distinctive because in the church, education is part of building the kingdom of God, it?s part of Zion, it?s part of our salvation, it?s part of our growth, it?s part of our becoming self-sufficient,? Warner said.
There are four main aspects to the ?Education in Zion? project, including research, curatorial, text writing and design.
Vanessa Stanfill, who graduated in philosophy in 2006, was, for the last year, responsible for overseeing the curatorial side of the project. Her job was to illustrate the messages in the exhibit by collecting and preparing photos, newspaper articles and artifacts.
Stanfill?s involvement in the project stemmed from her LDS mission to Nauvoo. While there, she became interested in church history and continued taking classes about it when she returned.
She enjoyed her time working with the project because it made her grateful for her education and taught her about the people who built the underpinnings of the educational opportunities she has now.
?I?m really inspired by the stories we tell in our exhibition,? Stanfill said. ?There are so many people who dedicated their lives to building up Zion.?
When she first came to BYU, Stanfill said she didn?t appreciate the generations of work that went into founding the school. She hopes other students will learn that appreciation through the exhibit.
?I hope that students will walk out with new eyes to what they have,? Stanfill said.
Elizabeth Vernon has been working on the research and text writing side of the project since October, finding and reading the stories of BYU?s educational pioneers. She said she was surprised to see how many struggles BYU experienced to become an accredited univer-sity.
Vernon, an English teaching major, was especially touched by stories about teachers.
?I?ve definitely appreciated my teachers more,? Vernon said. ?It?s been so great to see examples of people who keep learning their whole lives because they love it.?
The exhibition will open this fall.