Karl G. Maeser, a well-trained and respected educator from Germany, was more than Brigham Young Academy’s founding principal—he was a spiritual guide for his students.
Newly charged as president of BYA, Maeser was challenged by Church President Brigham Young that he “must not attempt to teach even the alphabet or the multiplication table without the Spirit of God.” Following this counsel Maeser instituted theology classes at the academy as well as devotionals where faculty members could discuss the spiritual applications of their curricula.
In addition, Maeser engaged students in the academy’s operations, from discipline and maintenance to tutoring and record keeping. He hoped that they would learn decorum, honor, integrity, and “that essential qualification of real worth,” reliability.
Bryant S. Hinckley said of his schooling with Karl G. Maeser, “You will never put on paper and you can never convey an intelligible something that Karl G. Maeser had. He knew about how to touch a boy’s heart like no one else that I’ve ever known. He put something in fellows that nobody else ever did. I have seen men come from the farm and ranch and stay there six months and go home with an entirely new light in their eye. He was a character technician.”