Mount Mansfield Union High School
“Talia White is one heck of a rock star,” said her colleague, Margaret Swanke. “Her priority is students first. She sees beyond school work concerns to what students might be dealing with socially and emotionally. She invests in the whole student, using various strategies to create an environment that is relatively calm and conducive to learning. Talia uses the softer ambient light of over a dozen lamps in the classroom. When the students get squirmy she has everyone stand and stretch or asks a student to lead a simple ballet routine.”
Now in her 20th year at Mount Mansfield Union High School, White was providing guidance to students about how to make paper when we entered her classroom. A bowl of cut up veggies was being passed around for all to partake of. The lights were dimmed and a diffuser was dispersing a variety of rosemary and sage scents “I use different oils dependent on whether I am seeking energy or peace and calmness from the students,” White said.
White has a unique position at Mt. Mansfield Union High School. “I am the case manager for about 70 students who come here throughout the day to complete school work, gain knowledge about their individual learning styles and to access accommodations. I encourage them to find their flow and get their groove on, teaching them the sequential tasks necessary to help them figure out their learning style. In essence I am teaching adaptability and organizational strategies to assist them with lifelong skills,” she said.
“I initially studied sociology and religion and then subsequently obtained a Master’s degree in education specializing in learning strategies. “I am very creative and like to make things,” she said beaming. White’s classroom complements her creativity. There are multiple colors, positive quotations and a potpourri of vision boards on walls. “I see the classroom as a kind of garden,” White said. “We are full of love and light and we take in all of this color. And I want students to come in here and laugh. “I ask everyone to create a vision board about how they see themselves. Some of the graduates who return to visit now can acknowledge that they now get what I was trying to teach them.”
White’s energy is not only pervasive at school but also at home. “Every morning I do yoga to help me center myself,” she said. “And there’s the dancing all around the house with all of my family and lots of sensory experiences. White moved to the US from Israel when she was two and a half years old. “Hebrew is her first language.