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The Purpose Road 

From the early days of Caney School, now Alice Lloyd College, The Purpose Road Philosophy was taught by Alice Lloyd and June Buchanan. It was originally created by George Herbert Palmer, a professor at Harvard University. Our founders’ burning desire was that each student would catch a vision of his or her purpose which would eventually manifest itself in world service.

Today, the ideals of The Purpose Road Philosophy permeate the educational process at Alice Lloyd College. All students work either on campus or in community outreach positions off-campus. Good character is emphasized and supported. Even our main street is named Purpose Road; side streets, which include names such as Conscience, Duty, Courage, and Consecration, serve to remind us of the importance of ethical living. A life of service to God and humanity is the desired result of one’s “walk” upon the Purpose Road.

The Purpose Road Philosophy

The Purpose Road Philosophy manual includes the following passage:

By an inexorable law,
What we expect tends to come to us.
Facing life in the right way, we must have

A Purpose
A Goal
A Vision.

Then hold the thought and work toward it.
It will come as dawns the day.


According to the diagrammed Purpose Road Philosophy June developed for her students, each person begins life as a Human Machine. Each life begins in a realm of thinghood, or a purposeless condition. A person could conceivably remain in that defeated state all of his life. “They’re what I call ‘nots‘,” June explains. “Do not, try not, will not, see not, dare not, care not, aim not were all members of what the boys and girls called the ‘not family,’ or people without purpose in their lives. If a person, or Human Machine, was drifting in life, he would stay within the realm of Thinghood or Irresponsibility and accomplish little.”

“‘Enter the Realm of Possibility with your life,’ I would say, likening this to passing through a narrow gate.” Next, a person must attempt to understand himself, to realize that this SELF has a little bit of evil in him but a much greater capacity for good. Each student was taught that he must develop all the positive aspects of his nature to meet his greatest potential. That is the Human Machine needs to develop what we called ‘four-square’ living – the physical, mental, social, and spiritual facets of one’s nature. The four-square life was intended not to represent a stagnant existence or closed view of the world but rather it was aimed at realizing promise. 

June sometimes would ask her pupils, “What could your four-square selves do? What could be your goals? Just to create a better Pippa Passes? Doesn’t Knott County need to be better too? And what of the state of Kentucky? And the nation? The world?” Students were encouraged to think in large terms, even to become involved in World Service to mankind. 

But what of the Fleeting Goal, those momentary objectives that lure the Human Machine toward his true course? The traveler was to reset his ultimate goal, push it back into view, and continue on his journey.


A person cannot do what he or she personally longs for because it may hurt someone else. One has to have a social conscience.


A person must have an interest and be persistent in pursuing that interest. 


A person must be self-disciplined: physically, mentally, socially, and morally.


A person must take a stand and act in a way that follows the stance.


A person cannot do anything without the courage to do it. A familiar saying among students states, “All goes if courage goes.”


A person must have a guide which keeps one always going in the direction of his or her goal.

As students travel down the Purpose Road, they must absorb the All Supply, the Stream of Plenty, the Ocean of Power that surrounds all life: “He’s Almighty God. He put the sun and the star in the sky and we on earth. Let us put our lives to his purpose.”

The teaching of the Purpose Road became intertwined with nearly each subject taught at Caney, and continues to be taught today in philosophy classes. 

*The above is adapted from Miracle on Caney Creek by Jerry C. Davis (Thoroughbred Printing LLC, 1982).