M. Lynn Bennion Foundation
Supporting future teachers in urban schools
by Jeff Driggs
The M. Lynn Bennion Foundation has devoted the last 20 years to supporting Westminster students in education through the M. Lynn Bennion Urban Education Scholarship. Today, more than 30 recipients of the Bennion scholarship teach at schools throughout Utah, as well as in other western states.
The Bennion scholarship is given to education majors who plan to teach in schools that serve significant numbers of minority students. This year’s recipient, Carolina Magana, is a first-generation Hispanic student from northern Utah, who hopes to teach third to fifth grade when she graduates this spring.
For generations, the Bennion family has actively advocated for education: M. Lynn Bennion supervised seminaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was a superintendent of the Salt Lake City School District, and served as the first head of what is now the Utah Society of School Superintendents. His father, Milton Bennion, was a member of the Utah State Board of Education and president of the institution that became Southern Utah University. Today, M. Lynn Bennion’s children—John Bennion, Annette Clark, Rebecca Glade, and Carolyn Heaton—serve as trustees of the family foundation.
“The Bennion family is deeply concerned about the need to prepare more first-rate, underrepresented teachers for service in inner-city schools along the Wasatch Front and in other urban areas where there are large numbers of minority students,” says John Bennion, a former superintendent of both the Salt Lake City and Provo school districts. “We are very pleased that over the past 20 years, 33 students pursuing degrees in education have been assisted by the Urban Education Scholarship. We believe that the School of Education at Westminster prepares teachers very well for service in challenging urban schools and are delighted to assist promising students preparing to teach in diverse school communities.”
At an event last October to recognize the Bennion Foundation, Cynthia Micken, a recipient of the Bennion scholarship in 2001, talked about the impact the scholarship had on her when she was a student. “At the time, the Bennion scholarship really helped me financially,” she says. “Today, I’m thankful that I was given the opportunity to use my knowledge to give back.”
Cynthia has taught at Granger Elementary, a Title I school in the Granite School District, for 15 years. She is a specialist with the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program and helps to integrate visual and performing arts into classroom curriculums.
“The first year is a sink-or-swim situation. Having gone to Westminster, I felt I had more preparation than my mentees later on,” she says.
Westminster President Stephen Morgan believes that the Bennion family demonstrated remarkable foresight when they established the scholarship two decades ago.
“We sincerely appreciate the M. Lynn Bennion family for their generosity,” he says. “We are focused on the benefits of diversity, inclusion, and equity for our students; donors like the Bennion Foundation are helping to make those benefits possible.”
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.