Jenny's blog

Regional Seminary Training

Saturday was our regional Seminary training. As usual, the presentations were of varying value and interest, but I was glad I went. This time I took notes on my tablet using Evernote. I am in love with Evernote, I have to say. I also use the Swype keyboard, which makes note taking using a device without a full keyboard totally do-able. I was sitting by a hardcore geek during one session who had out his iPad in landscape mode and was typing notes with two hands (WITH THE SOUND ON @#$%^^) who kept peeking over to see me type. Swype doesn’t work on iPad which, frankly, was another reason we got rid of our iPad so quickly.

This time the keynote was actually about SEMINARY! I know! It almost took my breath away, too. The speaker was Jeremiah Clark. His talk was encouraging. My favorite part was when he told a story about Elder Perry, who had been an early-morning Seminary teacher. He shared the following quote from Elder Perry: “Many years ago I had the privilege of teaching early-morning seminary. The class was held between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. each school day. For two years I watched sleepy students stumble into class, challenging their instructor to wake them up. After prayer was offered and an inspirational thought given, I watched bright minds come alive, to increase their knowledge of the scriptures. The most difficult part of the class was to terminate the discussion in time to send them on to their regular high school classes. As the school year progressed, I watched each student gain greater confidence, closer friendships, and a growing testimony of the gospel.” (L. Tom Perry, “Receive Truth,” Ensign, Nov 1997, 60)

You can almost imagine a choir singing in the background and a heavenly light enveloping the students, huh?

After the talk, a seminary teacher came to speak with Brother Clark. Before she could even start talking, she started crying and was finally able to choke out, “My Seminary class isn’t like that!” Elder Clark replied that he was sure when that sister had reached the age of Elder Perry she would remember her Seminary class the same way he did.


I have been lucky that my first class was full of easy, great students. Next year is likely to be more challenging, personality-wise. But I am confident that the holy ghost will enter the hearts of any student who will open his/her heart to the scriptures and we can have a great year.

I’m pasting my notes below in case they give you some ideas. I suppose the thing that I thought was most interesting was the idea of a Scripture Mastery Specialist. One stake in our region has a specialist that rotates daily between five classes teaching just scripture mastery. Regular Seminary teachers are welcome to attend on that day, but most take the day off, meaning that teachers present lessons four days a week. It reminded me of the Personal Progress specialist that was slapped down about 8 years ago when I was serving with the Young Women. General YW leaders asked unit leaders to handle Personal Progess themselves and not to farm it out. The new handbook now places much of the responsibility for tracking Personal Progress on the YW secretary. The SI types said they don’t have anything against having a Scripture Mastery specialist. It was definitely an interesting idea. I can see pros and cons for it. The biggest pro would be a little relief for the Seminary teacher, but he or she would definitely have to make sure that s/he was referring the SM passages regularly during lessons even though the teaching was the responsibility of the specialist.

I have been going back to the gym regularly. I have been really worried about my state of fitness, and it made me feel a lot better to know that I could work out — pretty hard — for a solid hour on the elliptical. I’m doing just over 4 miles in a hour. Today I got on the treadmill and tried to run. When I tried to run for the first time ever in high school I could only do a quarter of a mile at a time. Today I did 2/3 mile! I was astonished! I’m a little sore in one hip abductor, but it was a small price to pay! I’m starting to think that someday I might actually be able to run for 30 minutes or so! That would be cool. In the past I have literally hated running, but today it wasn’t so bad. The treadmills at my gym have TVs built right in, so there was something to distract me and keep my brain occupied. On the elliptical I have been reading Gospel Teaching and Leadership. I’m almost finished with it.

Seminary starts in two weeks from tomorrow for me. I’m suddenly very anxious! I have just about gotten my first week of lessons finished, but I got an idea from the seminary training that I’d like to work in. I may cut my PofS lesson down to a day and a half….. I want to introduce the idea of being a friend of the Saviors and others and also introduce the Living Christ. I’ve got to sit down and calculate how much time I need to figure out when to plug everything in…..


Tracy Kirkham

  • consider doing more with both of Jesus Christ than the story line/events. Look for doctrines. Same with resurrection.
  • Focus on need for a body.
  • god is father of JC. Why must we know that? Couldn’t meet needs of atonement otherwise. Had to overcome pain of atonement. Mortal mother so he could experience this life in full. God said he was his son. Needed capacity to withstand all pain, suffering, temptation. (There is no pain for gods)
  • only begotten son, see BD, flesh
  • Luke 1, 1 Nephi 11, John 3:16 – sent his Son not to condemn but to save the world,
  • If Jesus was the child of Joseph, what was he? (Teacher, maybe even a prophet, good guy–no resurrection, no atonement). Because of his divine parentage, we have a hope in those things.
  • The Trinity doctrine teaches there is something wrong or inferior with the body. Flesh is evil. God can’t be like us.
  • Satan wants to make God like him, robbing God of his body.

Brian Brandenburg panel leader, classroom management, unity and organization

  • Mike
    • create an expectation that kids will behave like adults (he congratulated kids on being adults, bc adults attend seminary. Later, kids act up and he says that’s not how adults act.)
    • treat the like adults and they will usually react like adults.
    • create a sense of collaborative learning as opposed to “filling the vessel”
  • Linda
    • Classroom management is about getting kids from being strangers to being a team.
    • ask yourself what do you want to have happen
    • Zone leaders, give me a wink and a nod when you know what I’m talking about and can lead your zone
  • Irene
    • The holy ghost doesn’t text :)
    • has kids mark with a red pencil, gives a red t-shirt “read every day”
    • Seminary bucks. Quarterly auctions run by Bishopric

    Special needs student was assigned a helper. Also had a member of the high council come and help him one on one. Student could listen to audio scriptures.

    Scriptures mastery methods. Linda teaches all keywords, then review 5 a week. Kids can own a scripture, class will point out out to that kid. Some stakes have a scripture mastery teacher, must emphasize SM in class anyway. SM teacher does SM 1 day a week. Teachers get a day of rest.

Daniel Toma, first ten days

  • we are not teaching new testament. New testament is the vehicle we will use to teach Basic Doctrines.
  • when seminary starts same day as school, don’t begin with passing out materials, rules, syllabus. Focus on total awesomeness. This may be the first and only time they ever come to seminary, so make it worth it.
  • teacher gives first devotional. Set example. (I can do this to introduce new talks.) Don’t bring out a favorite scripture from the past, use something from current reading. Short, brief, no cross-references, no long stories, model on their skill level. Show that it was easy, and then get a volunteer. Tell them do it just like I did.
  • If you have five or more students, you need a seating chart.
  • take a picture of students on the first day. Last day – look back at it. How have you changed because of Seminary writing exercise.
  • Zachaeus – publican, tax collector, not allowed in synagogue (good lesson for beginning of school year)
  • women could not touch men. She was unclean because of her issue of blood.
  • it’s okay to ask a question and not get an answer. Sometimes questions are to provoke thought not vocalization. (observation)
  • Russell m Ballard welcome video is online
  • New testament song set to Praise to the Man. When learning, erase some of the words. Tell the kids “don’t sing like beehives and deacons.” Later on tell them “I will curse you. It will be stuck in your head all day!” Next day kids will be talking about how that awful song was stuck in their heads. Keeps Seminary in their minds.
  • Object lesson, Display magic eye. You must look deeper to see it. If you don’t look deeper the scriptures will remain boring.
  • find a scripture mastery that they found themselves in. (Then use that as the scripture they own throughout year.)
  • scripture study tools object lesson. Display a screw put in hardwood, like oak. Can you put a screw in with your bare hands? Can you use this hammer? Measuring tape? You need a tool, the right tool. The scripture study tools in our scriptures are…
  • Dayton’s legs video at remember for stories about the lame.

John Gonzalez, atonement

  • Everything is calculated to bring to pass God’s purpose, Moses 1:39. Everything points at the atonement
  • Every Sunday we celebrate the good tidings through the sacrament – Christmas
  • Tools Satan uses:
    • Lies
    • equivocation
    • concealment
    • exaggeration
    • understatement
  • Satan teaches that no authority is needed. Method doesn’t matter. Authority doesn’t matter. (Regarding baptism)
  • find ways to link stories to the atonement
  • PMG “everything that is unfair about life can be made. …. through the atonement. ”

    Posted by Jenny Smith

    I'm Jenny Smith. I blog about life on the 300+ acres of rolling farmland in Northern Virginia where I live. I like tomatoes, all things Star Trek, watercolor, and reading. I spend most days in the garden fighting deer and groundhogs while trying to find my life's meaning. I'm trying to be like Jesus -- emphasis on the trying.