Teaching By Example


Adrienne Parks

Ken White teaches his students. He spent the entire class period lecturing history.

Once he takes a sip of his morning cup of coffee he begins speaking. Telling a story of his adolescence, he connects his past to the past of the U.S. All of the students listen with interest, leaning forward in their desks, jotting down notes as they go.

Ken White is a retired football/softball coach and current U.S. history teacher. Unlike many teachers, rather than move forward with the advances in technology, he keeps a firm grip on the older style of lecture-based teaching. White creates personal bonds with his students, helping them gain learning and studying skills that will help them in college.  

“I care for kids, and I want them to learn,” White said. “I think they sense that in the classes, and even though sometimes my sarcasm and some of the things I say may be rubbed the wrong way, I think down deep they know that I care about them, and it’s reciprocal that they care about me.”

Rather than reading word-by-word notes off for students, White tells stories about his own life and experiences that are not only relatable to the students but to the events that took place in history. This leads to an impact on the listeners, which makes facts and events easier to memorize.

“When I’m in [Coach White’s class], I truly learn history,” senior Regan GoDair said. “He [tells] stories and connects them to the past, which makes it interesting to learn and easy to remember all of the history. It’s not remembering facts. It’s remembering stories. He lectures, but he truly engages in what he’s talking about. He doesn’t just read off of a card or out of a book.”

Coach White is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had at Lindale.”

— Coleman Allen

Modern teaching styles are primarily focused on technology based lessons which work well for many students. White, however, holds a strong belief that lecturing is the best teaching method and practices it daily in his classroom.

“We’re going against the trend right now, but I’ve stuck with my methods even though technology has come in,” White said. “I will defend lecture based [teaching] any day. The [educational system] always changes, and so you need to try things. Over forty-six years, I’ve seen just about everything, but that’s the thing. I’ve plowed through with doing the same thing year after year, and I know that [to prepare] kids for college they need to be able to listen, take notes and get information from that standpoint.”

Before solely working in the classroom, White was also a football coach. While a football/softball field is a completely different setting than a history classroom, White connected the gap by using the same practices in regards to students on and off the field.

“I watched him on the football field, and he expected a lot out of the [athletes], and he got a lot out of them, which showed their respect for him,” former football coach and geometry teacher Mark Spann said. “He teaches the same way. He expects a lot out of the kids, but they respond because, again, they respect and like him and have fun in the class. That’s the way he was on the football field, fun to be around and keeping things upbeat.”

White has been teaching for 46 years and has shown students what it means to be dedicated to a career. He serves as a role model to past and current students he has taught.

“Coach White has shown me what it is like when a teacher is truly passionate about what he teaches,” senior Coleman Allen said. “He cares about his students, and he wants to see them succeed. Coach White is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had at Lindale. One day, I wish to be as passionate about my field of study as he is for his own.”