Sally White

Teacher, Writer

On paper, I appeared ready. I had earned a Master's Degree in Secondary Education, boasting A's in all my classes and top-tier Praxis scores. I had learned, much to my dismay, how to step out of a fist-fight, should one occur in the cafeteria. (Step- and turn- and "Teacher! Stop!") I remember thinking that fight choreography had not been required before starting my job at the insurance company.

I was not ready. I still recall the anxiety swelling in my stomach as my first period students rolled in for the first time. One girl entered riding piggyback on a classmate, spraying her hair from an aerosol can, cackling the whole way. I told myself I would chronicle my first-year adventures in a memoir for other newbies. It was going to be the teacher's equivalent of the book that had saved me years earlier as a new mom, How My Breasts Saved the World, Misadventures of a Nursing Mother, by Lisa Wood Shapiro.

I never wrote that memoir. As it turns out, teachers have approximately zero time for writing books. What I have done instead is spend 13 years in the trenches of public education. I have known the joy, the pride, the love; I have known the anxiety, the disappointment, the despair. I have learned that the kids who are tardy today will probably also be tardy tomorrow, and that the ones in the front row who turn all the papers the same way might just save my life. I have confirmed what I had always suspected, that teachers are the best people in the world. And I have discovered that our survival in the profession quite literally depends on laughter.

Personal Essay
Thanks in Advance...

The True Account of My Humbling Brush with Infirmity


Teachers Are Painters, Too

These are early chapters of what is meant to someday be a complete memoir about my teaching life. In this excerpt, I focus on time spent preparing my first classroom for students.

Hunger Mountain
Write Me a Story

An essay about using writing prompts in the classroom


Sue Holloway Takes the Cake: A Three-Minute Fiction Story

I wrote this story for Round 11 of NPR's "Three-Minute Fiction" contest. The prompt required us to write, in 600 words or fewer, about a character finding something he/she has no intention of returning. Sue Holloway Takes the Cake Nobody who knew Sue Holloway ever said, "Gee, it's a shame to see all that talent go to waste, working in a cubicle as she does."

Nice Place to Grow Old

This is a story I wrote for NPR's Three-Minute Fiction contest in February 2013. The story was to be written in the form of a voicemail message.