Stories

1970s

Stories

Auleen Cowan

As a 1976 graduate of Bob Jones University and new faculty member for the BJU School of Business Administration in Executive Secretarial Studies, I accepted a summer job with the BJU Press to type textbooks (and some occasional fiction). It was my first exposure to the world of publishing, and I immediately loved the challenges of galley sheets and fresh editing marks.

At that time, my immediate boss was Dean Wilson. From the first day Dean and I worked together, I had nothing but respect and admiration for his calm and reassuring manner as well as his keen work ethic, attention to detail and (almost) supernatural patience! With deadlines and a nervous “newbie” on board (me!), he immediately put me at ease by saying “Auleen, you’ll never make a mistake I haven’t already made, so we’ll get along great!”

That one sentence set the tone for the years that followed of humility and servant leadership Dean so aptly modeled. He made a lasting impression upon me and I have not only never forgotten his pivotal statement above but have shared it over the years with others a part in producing materials that will impact generations to come.

AULEEN (FULTON) COWAN, former BJU Press employee

Photo: This is not Auleen, but it shows the computer she used to type on in the late 70s.

Opal Wokaty

I used the first edition BJU press materials as a child in elementary school in the mid-1970s. I still remember the missionary stories about Mary Slessor and Amy Carmichael. Those stories and lessons impacted my life as a young person, and I can still quote much of the catechism (now called “Bible Truths”) I learned. BJU Press Bible curriculum was life-changing for me, and that is why I used it to teach my children their Bible courses as well. I thank God for the lasting impact of BJU Press and count it a privilege to have a part in producing materials that will impact generations to come.

OPAL WOKATY, Current BJU Press Digital Instruction Course Assistant

Photo: Early Bible Curriculum

1980s

Stories

David Miller

In the late 70’s and early 80’s, my dad (Wayne Miller) was one of two textbook representatives for BJU Press for a few years. The Press was just starting to expand subject options beyond the science textbooks. We lived in southern Illinois at the time and Dad traveled all over the Midwest. BJU supplied him with a van loaded with textbooks for selling at conventions or delivering to schools. Sometimes he would get a lead on a school and “cold call”.

I was just in elementary school but went with him a few times. I remember a couple of great trips to Michigan, but my favorite memory was when I accompanied him to Cheyenne, Wyoming to set up at a large convention.

My dad went on to plant a small church and Christian school in Illinois. As the BJU textbook variety continued to grow, we used several in that school through the 80’s.

DAVID MILLER, Culinary Arts Faculty, Bob Jones University

Photo: A Display of textbooks from the early 1980s

Rita Lovely

As a sixth-grade teacher at Bob Jones Elementary School in the late 70s and early 80s, I pilot-taught early BJU Press books as they were written, working off of copied sheets. The BJES teachers often met after school to review the early PreCursive handwriting method and give our input.

I began working at BJU Press one summer during those BJES teaching days. My first project was Math 6, helping write word problems or writing chapter opener stories. Research was little more challenging in those days, and in my preparation for writing stories I would sometimes interview someone in the field I was writing about or observe something to get a first-hand look, such as the time a lawyer friend took me to observe the workings of a courtroom. Fun days! My editor would take my story and—it seemed to me—totally rewrite, and improve, it. I learned a lot.

One summer, I worked on revising Bible 4. My coworkers and I laughed so much that I wondered how we got anything done, but we did. And we were on time! While we were keeping things light in one room, the truly great authors like George Mulfinger were in an adjoining room laying a solid foundation for BJUP science books. Historic days.

After classroom teaching came marriage, ministry, kids, and 26 years of homeschooling using BJU Press books before the Lord brought me back as a writer in 2017. BJU Press has had a profound influence in my life, and I’m so thankful.

RITA LOVELY, Current BJU Press Writer

Mark Stuber

I was privileged to work in the Printing division for about eight years from 1985 until 1993. I loved the work and the people there.

I was hired to inventory all the supplies, and I was able to help in the finishing area. Once the initial inventory work was completed, I was asked to learn film assembly in the pre-press area. At the time, we had small presses and a 2-color Heidelberg sheet press, later adding the 4-color Heidelberg sheet press, and new finishing equipment. Vacuum systems were added to the finishing equipment to help with dust. By the time I moved to another department at BJU, pre-press was just starting to be done on computers electronically.

It was an exciting time, with many innovations and new equipment. Praise the Lord for the same mission, its influence and great people who serve and make it all happen.

MARK STUBER, former BJU Press employee

Photo: The 4-color Heidelberg press in 1994

1990s

Stories

Lynda Slattery

I’m an illustrator and I remember when the Press offices used to be in an old brick 2 story building down the street. We had wooden floors on the second floor and when I would be penning an illustration, I’d have to lift my pen when sensing someone coming to walk by to insure a smooth line! I also remember when we employed the cut and paste method, using the hot wax to paste some illustrations on the page. We’ve come a long way since then!

LYNDA SLATTERY, Current BJU Press Illustrator

Evanna Walker

In November of 1996, I was asked to leave my child development center position at BJU to develop video classes using BJU Press materials. It was a big secret, and I couldn’t even tell my mom about my new job. We did a pilot of all eight subjects from Day 23 of the first grade curriculum. This photo is of the first day of recording the first HomeSat course. It was short day and I needed another prop, so one of the child development center staff brought my 9-month old infant, Willy, for my “sound shelf.”

EVANNA WALKER, Current Digital Instructor at BJU Press

Don Barrett

In the early 90’s we started using technology at the Printing Division that revolutionized our workflow, saving us money and time. The first bit of technology was the use of a scanner that could take 35mm color film and convert it into electronic files that could be inserted into our books. Before that, all of that work had to be sent out, and the result was more film as opposed to files.

The other technology was a brand-new web press that would print sections of books more than 3 times as fast as our previous presses, and it would fold those sections at the same time. The potential time savings and production increase was staggering. We could now look at the possibility of producing a new book from start to finish well within a month as opposed to the several months that it took previously.

DON BARRETT, Current BJU Press Supervisor, Electronic Pre-Press

Photo: The web press installed in the 90s

2000s

Stories

Laurie Wilson

Juanita Longoria mentored me during my graduate assistant days at BJU Press HomeSat, but I prefer to say that Juanita was a true friend. If you were blessed to know her, you understand that Juanita had sincere love for people and genuine wisdom beyond her years. Always quick to find the humor in any situation, Juanita turned many stressful projects into belly-laugh sessions during my grad school days. And after grad school, I appreciated that she always made time for me, which meant weekly chapel/lunch dates, impromptu weekend trips to Charleston, and even annual southern California adventures when my husband was stationed at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego.

Juanita was also a prayer warrior. When she was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, I was humbled to know that even though she was so sick, she still prayed for and invested in those she loved—including me. In 2017, my baby daughter suffered a near-fatal accident, and Juanita sent me a text that still brings tears to my eyes today. The text said, “Your name and daughter’s name are continually before God’s throne.” I’m thankful for her guidance, friendship, and the strong yet gentle ways she pointed me to Christ. She was tiny (in stature), but she was mighty (in influence)!

LAURIE WILSON, Current BJU Press Director, Culture & Engagement

Photo: Juanita Longoria at work in a studio

GW Bowers

My first memory of BJU Press starts back in 2000 when my family started homeschooling, and we primarily used BJU Press for our core subjects. My first introduction to BJU Press technology was the satellite, and I remember the day my dad and I set up the satellite. We were able to mount it where it got just enough signal over a neighbor’s tree, but when it was windy, we often lost signal. During high school, I watched the LINC classes for Math, Science, and Spanish, and we recorded the Heritage Studies and Bible block courses broadcasted overnight.

As the years went along, I became the VCR programmer in our household to make sure we got all our classes recorded, but if it was a windy night, we often had gaps in those videos, so we had to find another time to record that block of courses. By the time my sisters and I finished school, we had stacks of VCR video tapes of LINC and Homesat videos.

GW BOWERS, Current BJU Press Platform Support Manager

Photo: A satellite truck outside BJU Press Linc and HomeSat studios

2010s

Stories

GW Bowers

I started working at BJU Press in 2012 in Customer Service on the technical support team. That year, BJU Press launched eTextbooks. Through all my years working at BJU Press, I have continued to work with technology and have seen many innovations. Here are some of my favorite memories of technology.

1. Personal Favorite – Seeing the progress and innovation of DLO that was available from 2009-2021 and then using everything that BJU Press learned from that platform to make the Homeschool Hub. It was exciting to use my homeschool experience and provide technology solutions to some of the analog things my family used when homeschooling.

2. Most Challenging to Support – The Hard Drive was a great benefit. You could pack a lot of video content in it, but it was a challenge to support. Trying to support hard drives over the phone before video calls and screen sharing made this even more challenging. You had to be very familiar with different types of operating systems and give precise instructions to customers and hope they followed your steps exactly.

3. Largest Project Ever! – The BJU Press Trove project is one of the largest digital content projects we have done to date. This will be the third site that provides teacher resources to schools. Each new site has brought more and more content to the digital realm. For Trove, our resource content doubled compared to TTO and will include all our eTextbooks and interactive content for student editions, workbooks, and assessments. It’s been exciting to work with this project as we continue moving forward and making progress in the digital sphere.

4. Craziest Technology Time Period – In the year 2020, right in the middle of the COVID pandemic, we were still developing the Homeschool Hub. It wasn’t long into 2020 when we started getting questions about additional support for schools that were having to go remote. At the time, BJU Press hadn’t found a solution until March 15 when Nathan Rohrer passed along a suggestion from Steve Dickinson that we should add our course videos to the free side of TTO. By Monday morning, we had proof of concept and a plan to provide all our video content to schools. Through the efforts of multiple departments, we added over 16,000 videos to TTO in 3 weeks. Making these videos available on TTO made a huge impact with our schools as they tried to navigate remote learning.

GW BOWERS, Current BJU Press Platform Support Manager

Photo: An ad for various technology solutions

Mel Gibson

I loved producing for the K5 Farming with Grandpa series back in June of 2019, where we got to highlight kids using math skills on the farm. Location shoots are difficult and expensive, but also inherently rewarding.

MELISSA GIBSON, Current BJU Press Producer

Photo: On-location shoot on the farm

Darren Shaffer

This is a story of how we started a most unusual tradition. Around 2016, my coworker randomly asked me if people would come eat a bowl of baked beans if we brought some in. We decided to test that. We called it the “Bean Station” and sent out an email to Press Digital (now called Studio Services), in the building where we worked, to let everyone know we had baked beans in a crockpot. To our surprise, we ran out of beans. We proceeded to have seven more of these Bean Stations to accompany certain events, like a coworker moving positions. Each one was announced more outrageously than the last, with spoofed trailers and photoshopped team members. The Bean Station grew in popularity, and many in our building contributed by bringing other food.

DARREN SHAFFER, Current BJU Press Project Coordinator

Photo: The “Bean Station” at Studio Services

1970s

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