Alum’s Teacher Education Experience Built His Classroom and Coaching Career
Nathan White ’98 & MAT ’99 grew up in rural Canyonville, just over an hour north of Ashland. He had aspirations of attending the U.S. Air Force Academy but really wanted to continue playing football beyond high school so he honed in on what SOU had to offer academically and athletically. He credits former SOU faculty member and assistant football coach Tom Powell with helping him to narrow his options down to the Raiders.
Once on campus, Nathan tinkered with the idea of studying criminal justice and becoming a law enforcement officer. But he chose English as a major because he always thought about teaching and coaching and because he felt very confident in his reading and writing skills. He also played football for the Raiders for four years as a defensive back. After graduation, he stayed on at SOU to pursue his MAT degree and teaching certification. He lauded his teacher program in terms of preparation for the real world of teaching. “I was part of a one-year MAT cohort and it was very intense and I felt very prepared for my teaching experience. I hold my undergraduate and graduate degree experiences in high regards.” he said.
Right out of graduate school, Nathan was hired to teach and coach in Mountain Home, Idaho, for two years. He fully expected to return to Oregon to teach but was hired to teach and coach at Eagle High School, just outside of Boise. He’s been there now for nineteen years, influencing thousands of students. “I got hired in both of my jobs because in addition to classroom teaching, I could coach,” he said. “But my primary role is as a classroom teacher. I teach Advanced Placement English Language but I view myself as a writing teacher. I like to see my students become effective writers, whether it’s to communicate in an email, build a power point or apply for a job. I love seeing kids grow in that area.”
Outside of teaching Nathan is the Defensive Coordinator for Eagle HS football, where they compete in the tough Southern Idaho Conference against the biggest schools in the state. “I love coaching football. It’s all about teamwork and hard work. And it’s not easy for students. It’s unnatural to sacrifice for the greater good but our student-athletes have learned to do that in our program and we see a positive impact from it beyond our halls and fields,” he said. “Game days on campus are fun, spirited and electric. I love my job here and will always appreciate that getting my start in SOU’s teacher education program, helped provide this opportunity for me.”
Over the years, Nathan has written and kept journals for himself. But after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, a friend set him up with an online blog. He’s been writing commentary on societal issues, including a poignant essay on race relations titled, What Football Locker Rooms Can Teach Us About Race, where he shared his experience of having a black roommate and football teammate. Here’s an excerpt: “We were able to have true, authentic discussions and learn. I explained to him that it wasn’t that I didn’t like black people, but I had no experience with black people. There simply was no diversity where I grew up. I had never spent time with a colored person until I went to college. He had never met a white redneck from a logging town. It was a match made in heaven.” Now that’s an education.
Learn more: Eagle High School