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  • Writer's pictureEmily Reed

Have You Met the Deans?

At the top of the McKay School, we have a dean and associate dean. It's similar to a principal or assistant principal of a school, but what exactly do they do? Who are these people? This is your chance to learn more!

"...always stay enthusiastic about the choices you made to be a teacher. It's easy sometimes when you're out in the field to get discouraged, but to remember why you went into it and the joy it can bring to you if you don't get bogged down with the trivial that goes on and some of the negative press that we get in the field." (Mary Anne Prater)


Mary Anne Prater has been working at BYU for 20 years. After teaching as a special educator for several years in Jordan School District, Dean Prater felt called to continue her education at Utah State University and move into college administration. Her undergraduate degree is in Music Education, her master's degree is in Special Education, and her doctorate is from USU. While teaching, her favorite thing was "seeing the progress that [the students] make [and] being creative." Before coming to BYU, Dean Prater was an assistant professor at Southern Illinois University and the University of Hawaii. As the Dean of the McKay School, she "keeps things running". Dean Prater said the following about her responsibilities: "There's a lot of planning and a lot of organizing, putting committees together to do different work that needs to happen throughout the college. I'd say that probably about 75% of my time is spent on faculty, ensuring that they're doing their job and being responsive to their needs." Her journey to becoming Dean of the McKay School has been a spiritual one. She said the following: "I was being selfish [by not serving as the dean when the opportunity arose]. I had that impression in the temple when I went to... seek out whether I should do this or not. I was being selfish and I was just doing what I wanted to do, but I had some talents in the area of administration and I needed to be willing to serve... I've always sought to teach, but you do what you're asked to do."

"[You] are blessed to be at BYU... Recognize that [you've] been blessed to be able to come to BYU, to be at a school where we easily couple the gospel principles with the content of our discipline. We are where that's encouraged and where the Lord is looking out for us. The General Authorities say it's the Lord's institution. What greater blessing could you have than to get your education at the Lord's institution?" (Mary Anne Prater) 

Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs

Lynnette Erickson went into education for the same reason that so many of us do- to help students gain confidence that they can learn! She says, "they might not learn like somebody else and they might not learn the same things someone else learns overnight, but they can do it." After instilling that confidence in students in 7th grade and 3rd grade, Associate Dean Erickson went back to school to learn more about why certain things work in the classroom while other things don't. She got her masters at BYU and then later a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction at Arizona State University. Shortly after, she came to BYU and has been here ever since! While completing these graduate-level degrees, she was also a single mom (impressive, right?). As an Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs, Lynnette Ericsson mostly works with the accreditation process of our programs. She also works with students when they have questions and in her words, she goes to "a lot of meetings." However, she loves it! Working with BYU-Public School Partnership Program is also a huge part of her job. You can learn more about the partnership here.

"Teaching is something you do because basically you feel called to do it. It's an inner thing that you feel–you feel called. I think that people should remember that and not ever discount that calling because I think it's very very important to realize that The Master Teacher was called to teach. We want to emulate what He does and how He does things. And then after we get out in the schools, to not forget that because it's a gift." (Lynnette Erickson)

Associate Dean of Research

In addition to fulfilling her duties as the McKay School's Associate Dean of Research, Tina Taylor stays quite busy! Some of her duties for work include the following: recruitment for graduate programs, curriculum development and approval, reviewing all theses and dissertations (about 80 a year that range from 100-400 pages each), grants, continuing faculty status, and more. When she is not working for the MSE, she helps run the Dolly Gray Children's Literature Award, helps as the co-founder of the bibliotherapy-based group SIBSHIPS, and she loves to do anything outdoors (tennis, pickleball, water ski, hiking, snowboarding, etc.). Before joining us at the McKay School 25 years ago, Tina worked at what is now called the Pingree School for Children with Autism, she co-taught kids in Illinois with moderate disabilities, and she spent time in a resource room before continuing her education. Her undergraduate degree is in Elementary Ed/Special Education: Mild/Moderate and Severe from BYU, her master's in Early Childhood Special Education from Utah State, and her Doctorate degree was in Special Education, Development, and Educational Administration. Her plan was originally to run a school of her own for children with autism, but "that's not what God had planned for [her]."

"I really believe if you focus on what you're learning, and what you need to learn, and the questions you have, and getting those questions answered... then your quest for learning will show up as good grades...We love [the students of BYU]. They are the reason we are here. If we didn't have the students, we would not have the McKay School and we would not have BYU. We are here to serve the students so that you can go forth and make a huge impact on people that you serve once you graduate. That's our primary goal–to help you guys be successful in all areas of your life." (Tina Taylor)

You can learn more about these wonderful leaders of the McKay School on the school's official website. Or, even better, introduce yourself to them! Have any questions? Comment below!

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