Former Young Women’s General President speaks to BYU education students

Sister Dalton speaking with students after her lecture showing great enthusiam and support for her fans. Photo by Bryan Pearson
Sister Dalton speaks with BYU students after her lecture. (Bryan Pearson)

Former Young Women’s General President Elaine S. Dalton spoke to BYU students on Thursday as part of the Power of Teaching lecture series.

The event is put on by the David O. McKay School of Education and features a guest speaker every month.

“The lecture series is sponsored to validate those who have chosen education as their major, as well as motivate others who maybe have not thought of majoring in education,” said Brad Wilcox, an education professor at BYU. “We want everyone to understand the power teaching has.”

Wilcox also said the series brings role models and excellent teachers to the school, giving students opportunities to meet one-on-one with them. Students had that opportunity with Sister Dalton after the lecture was over and were able to to talk with her and take pictures.

Sister Dalton graduated from BYU with a major in English, a minor in speech and a secondary teaching certificate. She was taught from early on in her childhood about the importance of education. Three months after she started her education at BYU, her father passed away. Sister Dalton came home and told her mother she would come home from BYU and get a job to help support her mother and family.

“My mother told me that I must return to school and graduate,” Sister Dalton said. “It was ingrained in my mother that education was important. From the time she was in kindergarten until she graduated high school, she never missed a day and was never tardy.”

Sister Dalton’s father also knew the importance of education. When he was a young boy he lived on a farm, and one day he broke his hip. Instead of staying home until he healed, he decided to ride a horse sidesaddle one hour each way to school every day until he healed.

Sister Dalton’s goal when she graduated was to teach AP English in high school. However, she got married and had her first child shortly after she graduated and never had the chance to teach. She said even though students may not work in the field they study, they can still use their education.

“Everything you do is an opportunity to teach,” Sister Dalton said. “I am still using my education every day.”

Sister Dalton posing with BYU students  for a photo after her lecture on the power of teaching. (Bryan Pearson)
Sister Dalton posing with BYU students for a photo after her lecture on the power of teaching. (Bryan Pearson)

In addition to speaking on the importance of education, Sister Dalton also spoke on learning to listen to the Spirit.

“Move forward in the direction you feel best about, and then you’ll get a definite yes or no,” she said. She also said that too often people just wait around for a definite answer without doing anything about it.

Sister Dalton spoke about an experience she had with Kathy Clayton when she (Sister Dalton) was the Young Women’s general president. Clayton called Sister Dalton to ask her a question some of the Laurels in Clayton’s ward had asked. The Laurels wanted to know exactly what a modest swimsuit was so they could do the right thing. After some prayer Sister Dalton had the distinct impression that she could not answer that question, because it wasn’t her question.

She called Clayton back the next day and told her that the Laurels had to pray and find out for themselves.

“You have the ability to learn by study and also by faith,” Sister Dalton said. “Learn how to learn.”

Sister Dalton also said it is important for people to use their education in “helping the rising generation learn how to learn.” She stressed the importance of BYU’s motto: “Enter to learn, go forth to serve.”

“My only regret is that I didn’t have more to give,” Sister Dalton said. “I gave everything, my heart, my mind, my soul.”

Many students came to listen to Sister Dalton speak, both education majors and others.

“She was my Young Women’s general president, and I have always admired her and looked up to her,” said Sarah Oakey when asked why she came to the lecture. “It’s always fun to listen to General Authorities.”

Oakey, an early childhood education major at BYU, said the message she took from the lecture was, “Whether we work in our chosen field or not, we are going to use our education no matter our circumstances.”

The next lecture of The Power of Teaching lecture series will be on Oct. 23 at 11 a.m. in Room 115 of the David O. McKay building. The speaker will be David McConkie, the former first counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency.



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