Raising the Bar for Primary Teachers

I just got home from a late closing dinner in the City, and there was a letter from my mom waiting for me. She mentioned that on December 4th she went to visit her sister; they were joined by their brother and his wife, as well as an old neighbor, named Marie Smith Lloyd, whose granddaughter also came. Marie had been a neighbor to the family when they were growing up in Sugar City, Idaho.

Here’s the crazy part. Marie presented my mother, Arla, with a Noah’s Ark craft booklet that my mother had made in Primary when she was five years old in 1938. Marie’s sister, Karma, now deceased, had been my mom’s teacher. She kept that booklet for 71 years and then presented it to the girl who had created it as a five-year old.

Consider my mind blown.


  1. very sweet! I was an assistant in activity days for just over 4 years and was released earlier this year. And I thought I was doing good that for 4 1/2 years, I’ve had a picture on my fridge that one of the girls in activity days (now a yw)made for me after I gave a talk in sacrament meeting! It is too sweet of a picture to remove- she drew a picture of her as well as me w/a HUGE head and said I gave a good talk.

  2. Wow. And I was all impressed with my husband’s deacon advisor for remembering to send them the letters they wrote to themselves after ten years.

  3. Awesome story.

  4. Talk about amplifying your calling.

  5. Wow.

    That’s all I’ve got.

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    My uncle reports that when they were young, Marie’s family had a player piano, and everyone in the neighborhood would come and sing around the piano. The group all had fond memories of that.

  7. Maybe I’m just cynical, but doesn’t it just mean that Karma was a packrat and kept a lot of stuff, when she died her family went through her stuff and discovered a lot of old papers that had been boxed away, noticed the name and realized they were still in touch with that family and decided to hang onto it and pass it along. So, kudos to Marie for her kindness in going through the trouble of passing along the booklet, but I don’t know that it means Arla was an extra-ordinary Primary teacher, just maybe someone inclined to hang onto memorabilia rather than throw it away.

  8. And lest anyone think I’m a horrible person, I think I’m reacting to the title of the post more than anything. I don’t want Primary teachers to feel as if they have to hang onto everything the kids in their class make for 70 years and then track their old students down to make a presentation of their old stuff in order to feel like they were meeting the standards of a good Primary teacher.

  9. Mark Brown says:

    A great post, Kevin. Thank you.

  10. Whoa, Kevin, that’s awesome.
    And really, JES, that’s what you got from this? That Kevin Barney, always trying to tear people down and create unrealistic expectations of hyper- Mormon-perfection. Or just trying to share a nice story.

  11. Kevin Barney says:

    I meant the title to be funny. I don’t really expect Primary teachers to hang onto their charges’ projects for the better part of a century and then return them!

  12. Wowzer.

  13. Sorry I missed the irony intended in the title. I’m notoriously bad at interpreting (and being interpreted) tone in emails. CWC, like I said, I’m really not a horrible person trying to rain on parades, it was just the connotation of the title along with the post. It would be really cool to receive such an unexpected reminder of the past.

  14. I kinda saw it the way JES did. I’m sure that Karma was a better primary teacher than I will ever be, though.

  15. I hope cool things like that show up when I’m in my 70s.

  16. Jessie T. says:

    Is anyone going to make a “what comes around, goes around” Karma joke here?

    Ok, I will. Consider it made.

  17. Steve Evans says:

    You’re a Karma chameleon.

  18. alextvalencic says:

    I admit that I was kind of hoping for something slightly more useful to my wife and I, as we prepare for a new Primary class in January. (It is hard enough on us that we are going to miss the last two weeks of Primary with our class this year, as we will be visiting family and friends in Iowa, Nebraska, and Colorado.)

    Anyway, I think this was sweet. I still talk with my Primary and Sunday School teachers from when I was young. I am actually facebook friends with my Sunbeam teacher now. Crazy!

    When my wife and I taught in the nursery, we drew some pictures with a couple of the kids and later put them on the fridge. A year later, the pictures are still there. Not sure how long they’ll stay, but we’re good friends with the parents of these kids, so they’ll probably stay until we need new space on the fridge door.

  19. Alex…the best advice is just love your students. Don’t worry too much about the “teaching” part. Prepare your talks early, use lots of hands on, visual aids, and be enthusiastic. But if you truly care about them personally, then everything else will fall into place.

  20. For teaching I actually like the way the new outline divides things. They suggest that you “identify the doctrine”, “encourage the children to understand it”, and “help them apply it”. Seems like a nice way to look at each lesson as you prepare it so you don’t necessarily get stuck using exactly what the manual has. If the material in a specific lesson is useful, then use it, but if you have your own story or example or object lesson or game or whatever, then go for it.
    Also, if you have any special needs kids, please ask the parents for permission to get in contact with their teacher at school so that you can try to use similar expectation/reward systems at church. It’s a good bit of work, but immensely helpful.

  21. Okay, I admit I had the same thought as JES. I guess that’s what happens when your mom and grandma are packrats. For years, each time I received something of theirs from them, I thought it was a special gift I needed to treasure. After a while, I figured out that they just didn’t want to throw away their junk, so they gave it to me to “keep” for them. (me, who hates junk and throws everything away)

  22. But, the situation in this OP sounds like a very special gift. Not to knock it. Just to add a little validity to JES’s POV.