The years the Saints spent in Nauvoo were rich in both culture and learning. It was here where they established the University of the City of Nauvoo. There was no campus because most funds went to the construction of the temple, but Church leaders did regulate a curriculum. University classes covered a variety of subjects: English literature, languages, math, the sciences, rhetoric and music.
At least thirty common schools were constructed while the Saints were in Nauvoo. Students congregated in various locations: public buildings, private homes and some commercial structures. All the teachers were monitored and certified by the University of the City of Nauvoo.
Approximately 80 men and women taught in these schools. Abigail Abbot was one of those teachers. She began teaching school to support her family (of eight young children) after being widowed. In addition to teaching, she kept her own vegetable garden and usually had to tend to it at night, after teaching school.
Other members of the community encouraged education and did their part to help those who were less fortunate. For example, Joseph Lee Robinson built a home and dedicated the entire upper room to be a school for neighbors. He hired a teacher (a sister in the church) and invited those who could afford it to help pay her. He also made sure to invite and include those who could not afford to pay anything. He said“th[ose] that were not able to pay I wanted . . . to feel just as [welcome,] as the school was to be free to their children, every one of them.”
The community in Nauvoo was one of camaraderie and service. Each person did his or her part to help further the work of the gospel and to educate members of the community.
*All information and quotes are from gallery text.
Does anything feel better than light and the warmth it brings after a long, bleak accumulation of days? Sometimes that bleak streak lasts for an entire winter and we begin to lose our focus. Our immediate assignments become harder to rally, and we begin to dream of summer days filled with long hours of light.
The Education in Zion Gallery is filled with extensive amounts of light. The two-story windows and the oculus above the spiral staircase guarantee this generous amount of light. This physical light contributes to the gallery’s uplifting atmosphere.
Like every other physical aspect of the gallery, the light from the windows is symbolic of the light of Christ and implies “enlightenment, knowledge, and an uplifting, ennobling, persevering influence that comes upon mankind because of Jesus Christ” (Bible Dictionary, Light). “And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings” (D&C 88: 11). It is “the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (D&C 93:2). “Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space …which giveth life to all things” (D&C 88: 12, 13).
As we and all other things on earth cannot exist without light from the sun, let us remember where the source of light truly emanates from; without His light no one truly lives.
“This Church is always only one generation away from extinction. . . . All we would have to do .. . to destroy this work is stop teaching our children for one generation.”
A lot of us are not aware of the Church’s educational worldwide presence. The Benemérito school in Mexico City, Mexico, is being converted into an MTC while Juarez Academy in Juarez, Mexico continues. Aside from Juarez Academy, there are fifteen other LDS Church–operated schools, all in the South Pacific. These treasures provide both secular and religious education because the regions lack adequate public schooling opportunities and infrastructure. Interestingly, a majority of these South Pacific schools end up sending students to BYU–Hawaii, especially the Liahona High School of Tonga.
Liahona High School has an interesting history. In 1924, mission president M. Vernon Coombs obtained a property lease in Tonga, where he started a school called The Makeke School, meaning “arise and awake.” The Makeke School helped advance the Church in that region of the globe for generations.
In later, this became the foundation for an enlarged school system in the region. Church leaders eventually obtained a lease on a 275-acre plantation outside of Nuku’alofa, not far from Makeke. They used the land there to build an expanded school campus named “Liahona,” and Makeke transformed into Liahona in 1947. Building the Liahona School represented the beginning of the Church’s labor missionary program and it was probably a leading catalyst for the Church’s expansion in Tonga. Liahona continues to prepare youth for leadership positions in the families, Church, communities, and in the government.
Education can open many doors: some of them are personal, some are religious, and others are secular in nature. In the end, however, education ultimately helps the Kingdom of God roll forward, whether it’s in a geographical region of the world, a country, or a family.
 Education in Zion gallery text
 “New Missionary Training Center to Open in Mexico.” Newsroom. The Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day Saints, 31 Jan. 2013. Web. <http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormon-mtc-mexico>.
 “Liahona High School.” NoMoa.com. Tonga on the ‘NET, n.d. Web. <http://www.tongatapu.net.to/tonga/convictions/schools/tbu/lhs/default.htm>.
The HFAC was named in honor of the fifth president of BYA/BYU, Franklin S. Harris. Since his early boyhood, Harris had been encouraged to pursue higher education by influential people such as John Widtsoe. Harris’s greatest inspiration, a teacher at the Juarez Academy in Arizona named Guy Wilson, kindled Harris’s desire to become an educator. Following his graduation from BYA, Harris attended Cornell University and obtained a doctorate in agronomy.
Harris assumed his position at BYU when the university was in dire financial needs. Although the university’s credibility and curriculum were lacking compared to other universities, he was undaunted and sought to make changes. Among his many accomplishments, Harris upgraded the collections of the library from 17,030 volumes to over 138,500 volumes. To accommodate such a large increase in books, Harris had to commission a new library to be built; he named it the Hebert J. Grant Building. Harris also hired more accredited educators with doctorates and urged existing faculty members to earn their doctorates as well. His vision of education extended beyond the scope of the campus; he founded Leadership Week, later renamed Education Week to instruct and enrich the community.
Perhaps the biggest accomplishment he’s known for is acquiring the land that is BYU’s campus today. Despite criticisms, Harris said “I can never purchase enough land to provide for the future growth and development of this campus.” To hear more stories about the forerunners of Brigham Young University, visit the Education in Zion Gallery at the top of the spiral staircase in the JFSB.
Over the years, many significant world leaders have visited BYU and been impressed with both the campus and the students. In connection with the recent Presidential Inauguration, EIZ opened a small photo exhibit on politicians who have visited BYU. A surprising number of politicians have visited including Harry Truman, Hubert Humphrey, Bobby Kennedy, Nelson Rockefeller, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and others. Each has brought his or her own political style to campus and has been warmly welcomed regardless of political affiliation.
There are diverse political beliefs in the United States, but, regardless of our own political affiliation, everyone makes up a part of a unified whole as citizens. The exhibit is meant to encourage visitors to think about politics and how they can get involved and make a difference. We are blessed to live in a country that allows us the opportunity to exercise our agency in an effort to make a change in the world.
Along with photos and fun facts about each politician highlighted, the photo exhibit discusses the role of citizenship that each of us should play as students at BYU. Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourage members to be actively involved in their communities and in the political process. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “We are involved in an intense battle. It is a battle between right and wrong, between truth and error, between the design of the Almighty on the one hand and that of Lucifer on the other. For that reason, we desperately need moral men and women who stand on principle, to be involved in the political process. Otherwise, we abdicate power to those whose designs are almost entirely selfish.”
Come to the politicians’ exhibit at Education in Zion to see what a force for good you can be!
 Gordon B. Hinckley, Stand a Little Taller (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2001), 15.