OGDEN, Utah – Having begun their courtship at Weber State in 1947, LDS apostle Boyd K. Packer and his wife, Donna S. Packer, are being honored at the university with a new center for families in the Jerry & Vickie Moyes College of Education.
The Boyd K. and Donna S. Packer Center for Family and Community Education (CFCE) will help administer and support eight community education outreach programs that serve families, teachers, students and community members.
A program and buffet to recognize the Packers will be held May 8 at 4 p.m. in the Kimball Visual Arts Center’s Shaw Gallery.
Weber State holds special meaning for the Packer family; it was in early 1947 that a young bomber pilot just back from WWII became interested in the Brigham City Peach Queen, Donna Smith. They struck up a conversation at the Weber State library.
“Mother was working at the circulation desk and Dad approached her, and they visited a little bit,” recalled son David Packer. “There must have been a spark there because Dad said all of a sudden he became studious and spent more and more time in the library. One thing led to another, and eventually they were engaged and married later that summer.”
Not only did Donna Smith spend time with her future husband at Weber State, she also was on a music scholarship, playing the violin; she was president of the pep club and a member of the La Dianaeda sorority; and she lettered in women’s basketball.
“Mother talks about having a wonderful experience at Weber College,” David Packer said. “She was involved with many activities on campus both educationally and socially. It was an enriching experience to broaden her horizons to see things she had not experienced previously. Our family hopes this new center is a great opportunity for individuals to participate in things that they have not done before, and that they can grow and fulfill their dreams in ways they didn’t envision when they entered the program. If individuals will take advantage of those opportunities, there is no limit to what they can accomplish.”
The new center will strengthen and support eight community outreach programs.
Literacy Project: Prepares children from less privileged backgrounds for success in school and life. This project promotes literacy and positive parenting practices for more than 100 low-income families each year by working with families individually on a monthly basis throughout the year. The program follows the philosophy that parents are a child’s first teacher.
Teachers Assistant Pathway to Teaching (TAPT): Assists volunteers and teacher assistants in public schools who have the desire and commitment to become fully licensed teachers. TAPT targets those working specifically with English as a Second Language (ESL), early childhood, and special education students. The program was created at the request of the superintendents from six school districts who wanted talented individuals in their schools to further their education in order to work more effectively with special populations such as English language learners.
Families Alive Conference: Champions the successes of everyday families by providing creative ways to enhance lives of individuals, gain skills in communication, problem solving, teaching and advocacy, and experience techniques to strengthen relationships.
Teachers of Tomorrow: Helps provide a bridge to college for high school students who are interested in the teaching profession. Students participate in concurrent enrollment courses as well as the Future Educators Association (FEA).
WSU Charter Academy: New this fall, the charter academy will focus on educating the whole child using developmentally appropriate and research-supported curricula and instructional methods. The charter academy will offer a morning and afternoon session of kindergarten with 22 children in each. The center will allow WSU students to observe and practice cutting-edge, research-based educational techniques.
Storytelling Festival: Attracts national, regional and student storytellers who enthrall more than 10,000 people each year with tales that engage listeners while promoting literacy, culture and the arts.
Melba S. Lehner Children’s School: Provides a quality early childhood setting for training WSU students to understand the development of young children and developmentally appropriate practices for working with them.
Child Care Resource and Referral: Assists families to find quality care, while helping caregivers provide the most nurturing environment possible for children.
The dean of the College of Education, Jack L. Rasmussen, said the new center will help programs flourish that already have a proven track record of helping children, families and students.
“The Packer Center will allow us to enhance, strengthen and support some of these terrific programs, which we’ve developed over time, that really make an impact both for our students and the community,” Rasmussen said. “It will provide us with the staff and institutional support to enhance the programs in ways that we have not been able to previously. I think it will be an outstanding opportunity for us it and will be extremely beneficial for our faculty, our students and the individuals we work with in these programs.”
Boyd and Donna Packer both received their associate’s degrees from Weber State. He went on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s from Utah State and a doctoral degree in education from Brigham Young University. Weber State awarded him an honorary doctoral degree in 1983. They are the parents of 10 children.
The new director of the CFCE, professor Chloe D. Merrill, said the Packers’ emphasis on education and family is in perfect sync with the center’s education outreach programs.
“Our programs look at individuals to see where they are currently, and then we help support them physically, emotionally, mentally and developmentally, so they can reach their fullest potential,” Merrill said. “It is exciting to see their growth and success in life.”
For more information about the College of Education, visit weber.edu/COE.
Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.
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