60-Second Interview: Dennis White, History & Lego Robotics Teacher, Theatre Tech Director


When I was growing up, I wanted to be:

A toy designer...the movie "Big" had a big impact on me! 

I got into education because:

I really enjoy working with young people. I felt I could help students who may have learning challenges they are scared to share.

A few words or phrases that describe my approach to teaching/ working with teenagers:

I believe you have to listen to what they have to say to gain empathy. However, I think it is even more important to help them listen to others.

I am constantly surprised by:

Creative people. I love every new thing they teach me.

Describe a student who's done well at Marvelwood:

Going back to what I said earlier, the students who take the time to learn about others, to listen to others, always end up doing well. They can learn from other people’s mistakes as well as successes.

I know I'm reaching a student when:

They come to class prepared and eager to learn more.

A favorite project I've done with students:

So many! Naturally, in our history class, I enjoy the annual archaeology research assignment but I also loved our reading of Julius Caesar on stage last year. Two groups each had an opportunity to do a cold reading and then we discussed the play versus the scholar-accepted history of Julius Caesar. In my art class, I really enjoy the architecture unit. The students often amaze me with their creations.

If I could take a trip anywhere with students, it would be to:

Machu Picchu would be outstanding. Rome or Greece or honestly anywhere to study the culture we read in our books.

The best thing about raising children on a boarding school campus is:

Our children have a lot of big brothers and sisters.

I'm currently reading:

I just started re-reading The Hobbit.

The book I'm recommending these days:

"Guns, Germs and Steel"...is still my go-to recommendation.

List a few ingredients of the Marvelwood 'special sauce':

Family, dialogue, and fresh air.

This is what I would tell my first-year/ first-month-teaching self:

Start a table-top gaming club.

What I like about teaching at Marvelwood:

We all look out for each other as best we can. Students, faculty, and staff.

What I like about working at Marvelwood:

Same as the previous answer, but in addition, I love the small size of our school.

What I appreciate about Marvelwood students:

I appreciate that they bring varying perspectives and insight to each class.

The funniest/ most interesting/ most memorable thing a student said:

I am struggling with this but mostly because my most memorable moment which speaks to the kindness of many of our students is a moment when I was having a difficult week. One of the students noticed, as I typically hide it well. He took the time to talk to me. He actually did this daily to everyone and I could not have been more impressed with his ability to turn anyone's bad day into a great day with his kindness and positivity.

Three things I want my students to take away:

Confidence, respect, and knowledge.

When I'm not teaching, I like to:

Spent time with my family.


Dennis and his wife Director of Residential Life Misty Jordan live in Summit Dorm with their two daughters.  Dennis teaches history, Lego Robotics, and 3D Art and is the tech director for the Marvelwood Players. A long-time Dungeons and Dragons fan, he is the faculty advisor for the table-top gaming club.