When I Was 17: Nathaniel White


Carter McKee

Nathaniel White teaches math at La Quinta High School.

A player is approaching the ball. Unsure what to do, 17-year-old goalie Nathaniel White picks up the ball while the player crashes into him. 

White holds out a hand to help his opponent up. As they lock hands, White lays a sucker punch to his opponent right in the face. 

With anger still inside of him, White receives a red card and exits the soccer field. 

White teaches Statistical Reasoning in Sports at La Quinta High School. He has recently regaled his students with this story. He’s known to be highly involved in supporting his students — such as attending high school athletic games, most recently the boys’ soccer games. 

This is a very “Mr. White” story — his way of connecting with his students using his own high school experiences. Those who connected with his story, laughed in shock when he shared that story. 

At this point in his life, White was a young ambitious student who graduated from John Glenn High School in New Concord, Ohio in 2002. As a student, White was also quite active in soccer and ran track during his high school years. His favorite of the two was soccer. 

High school seems a lot when you’re in it but once you’re out you miss how little responsibilities you had.

— Nathaniel White

White describes his high school experience as “one of the best times of my life.” 

Academically, White felt as if school was extremely easy; however, his lack of focus altered his performance. 

“I felt like I could’ve got all A’s if I wanted to, but my immaturity got in the way,” he said. 

Although academics should’ve been the main focus, White enjoyed his time messing around with his friends and pranking his teachers. One of his favorite memories was when he went out the window of his classroom and walked back to the front door of the class leaving all of the students confused- including the teacher. 

Although he would be considered a “class clown,” he did extremely well in school, which led to White pursuing higher education. 

White started off as a telecommunication major at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. After graduation, proceeded to follow telecommunication as a career. However, after about 10 years of working with the nightly news doing TV and audio production, he discovered that his job really didn’t interest him as much due to the lack of growth opportunities and enjoyment.  

At first, White didn’t always want to teach. His parents were both teachers but he didn’t want to be like them.

“It took me a while for that teen angst: ‘I don’t want to be like my parents’ attitude to wear off,” he said. 

Once White saw the benefits of teaching such as regular hours, no working on weekends, and summers off, he decided to follow in his parent’s footsteps and take the next step for this new career. 

He then decided to get his teaching credential and started his teaching career in 2017 in Bullhead City, Arizona. Only a few years later, White sought a new teaching opportunity at La Quinta High School as a math teacher in 2019. 

I’ll also give some credit to a gentleman who works at the district office named Larry Bellanich, who was a friend of my wife’s family: He encouraged me to go for it, and said he would hire me right away once I had my credentials.  I’m very happy with the career move,” he said. 

White has been a fan favorite at the high school. His involvement with the students, the funny stories, academic support, and positive attitude have created a positive following throughout the students. 

“He’s a great teacher. He’s really calm and he likes talking to his students. We have sports conversations sometimes too,” said Arthuro Cuevas ‘22, who is enrolled in Mr. White’s statistics class. “I tend to slack in his class; but instead of getting upset at me, he remains patient. I view Mr. White as a leader and I’d do anything for him,” he said. 

Courtesy of Nathaniel White
Flashback: Nathaniel White at age 17.

As his name began to be talked about throughout the school, his popularity reflected on his class size. He is responsible for two full senior Statistical Reasoning in Sports classes since the first class had overflowed. 

“I love Mr. White,” said Laffete Lewis ‘22, who has been in White’s class for two years. “He comes in every day with energy and respect for his students and treats everyone the same. He’s funny yet serious. He also throws in jokes to make his lessons more entertaining. I really admire him,” he said. 

White has clearly established himself into many hearts and continues to raise the bar of teaching at La Quinta High School. 

 “Enjoy being 17,” he said. “High school seems a lot when you’re in it but once you’re out you miss how little responsibilities you had. Enjoy it while you’re young and don’t grow up too fast.”