Missing Ms. White

Morgan Snyder, Columnist

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As the school year began, I felt a heavy, missing presence in the halls of Central High School. Our beloved Ms. Sally White, a favorite among many, is off to achieve new heights at the Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts (CCA.) Several upperclassmen know and love Ms. White as an English teacher, but there is an abundance of students who participated in drama club, book club, or were members of the Beta Club she sponsored. Ms. White had an extraordinary gift for teaching, giving her lessons from bell to bell and still finding the time to advise and sponsor numerous after-school activities.

However, Ms. White is no longer a classroom teacher at her new school. She has taken the position of Dean of Fine Arts, spending her days directing the school’s Fine Arts staff to facilitate the many arts programs and events they have there at CCA. One of her favorite things about CCA is the culture. Ms. White enjoys hearing students in their practice rooms rehearsing, before school even starts, each day when she enters the building. She also loves going into the dance studios to watch her students work hard at something beautiful.

“The students are really kind and supportive of one another, so I love simple things like how they hold the door for the guy rushing to class with his violin case. I love that CCA feels like home to most of our students, and I love that they can all make something they are proud of here,” said Ms. White.

Ms. White is kept busy in her new role as Dean of Fine Arts, working all day and into the evenings. For this reason, she does not yet sponsor any groups at CCA.  Once she has found her footing with all of her new responsibilities she has taken on, Ms. White may inquire about starting a book club. She said she would love to be able to connect with her students in that way again.

She was more than a teacher. She was like a ‘school mom’, always there for us. If we ever needed anything, she was there. She is a great role model, and her personality always brightened up my day,” said Jaleesa Smith, a Central senior who was in Ms. White’s drama club.

Just as we miss Ms. White, she misses us, too. She misses her beloved colleagues, who always had her back, and the comfortable feeling of the building she had worked in for so long. She is also an alumni of Central, in case you do not know. So many staff members at Central regard Ms. White in the most positive light.

“Losing Ms. White as a teacher is a loss for every student at Central High School. Her enthusiasm for teaching and learning is contagious. I miss sharing lunch with her and being jealous of her nutritious, well-balanced meals her husband, Joe, packed for her. No one can replace Sally White,” recalled Gregory Cantrell, English 11 teacher and friend of Miss White.

Melinda Martin
MISSING MS. WHITE — Ms. Sally White and her friend, Melinda Martin, Central’s librarian, enjoy themselves during a sunny day by the pool.

“I miss her laugh; she was my comedy relief, the Tina Fey to my Amy Poehler. I feel like we were somehow separated at birth,” said Melinda Martin, our librarian and one of Ms. White’s best friends here at Central.

Ms. White misses us, the students. She misses teaching, and the “rare but transcendent” moments when she felt we really understood her and her mission. She thought of us as her kids, and she would not trade us for anything.

When she reflects on her years spent teaching at Central, the things we accomplished together makes her smile.

“I feel proud of what we were able to accomplish together. We made a book club in a school where most kids didn’t like to read. We staged plays in a building without a theatre. We made poetry out of colors. It was pretty wonderful,” said Ms. White.

Ms. White would like us all to remember that free public education is a gift. Guest speakers from Kenya recently visited CCA, and they reminded her of how many kids take education for granted. The women from Kenya had to fight tigers off on their way to school, which they snuck into because their parents could not pay tuition.

I am currently investigating teachers at Central to find out if anybody will host these amazing women to speak to some of our students; if any teacher would like to, let me know. I am also working with Mr. Cantrell to co-advise the Sally White book club! Yes, we are naming the new club after our favorite teacher. Ms. White would love to hear from her former students as well; just email her at her regular HCDE school email address.

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