December, 2, 2010

Worth It All: Jacob Spori & Ricks Academy

“Sometimes I feel I cannot bear it; but the gospel is worth all,” Professor Jacob Spori would say, clenching his fists after a difficult day of teaching at Ricks Academy.  In its early years, the students attending this Idaho school were rather rough-hewn and, at times, uncouth.  In addition, many of these older youth were struggling to read. Although Jacob Spori was impressively educated and cultured, he was still learning the English language himself, having grown up in Switzerland.

None of the challenges he faced, however, mattered to Spori as much as his commitment to the gospel.  He knew that helping youngsters to develop a similar commitment to spiritual as well as secular truths was well worth the trying of his patience and even his financial situation.

During his third year as principal, Spori gladly gave every last penny of his own salary to the two teachers he had hired, simply going without pay when he discovered a shortage of funds. Because there was no money to support a janitor or handyman at the school, he assumed even those humble responsibilities.  Furthermore, this devoted man continued to support Ricks Academy by donating his earnings from his employment with the railroad for many years following his term as principal.

Of course, Jacob Spori couldn’t know of the beautiful campus Ricks Academy would one day become, of all the wonderful programs it would eventually develop, or of the thousands of students who would receive an education from its professors. He only knew that he had been called to lead students to great intellectual and spiritual heights—and of course, that the gospel was worth it all.