March blew in like a “tiger” with a new take on Lunar New Year celebrations. On March 2nd, Mandarin Chinese teacher Li Laoshi gave students and families a visit to “Chinatown,” with actual vendor stalls set up in the TNCS auditorium and hosts to help us navigate the lanes!
Li Laoshi was very proud of her students, who worked very hard on their Lunar New Year projects. “We did an amazing job in presenting Chinese culture of 12 animal zodiacs, Kung fu, traditional clothes, crafts, pandas, and Chinese food in 2 days of celebrations,” she said. The shops and stalls were not only fun to visit and sample the wares, they had a very important purpose: fundraising for the middle schoolers’ fast-approaching capstone trip to Puerto Rico! “Our students also feel very proud that they can support the 7th and 8th-graders’ service trips,” continued Li Laoshi. “It was really exciting and enjoyable!”
Science Fair 2022
Next up was the annual Science Fair, hosted by TNCS science teacher Mr. Brosius. Presentations were broken out by division, with 4th- through 8th-graders presenting on March 14th and 15th, 2nd- and 3rd-graders presenting March 16th and 17th, and kindergartners and 1st-graders the following week.
For much of Quarter 3, prepped for their projects, assembling materials, creating lists of methods, and collecting data. Projects could either follow the scientific method or veer into engineering and design territory. Mr. B. was on hand to oversee and advise: “A few projects required some amendments in order to increase their testability, but the students enjoyed their work in science class,” he said.
Although the Science Fair ended, the STEM fun did not! Mr. B first sent a thank you out to families: “Thank you to all who viewed science fair presentations last week. It means a lot to the students. They have worked diligently this past quarter and should be proud of their efforts.”
Then he sent an update that students continued working on improving the quality of their data collection and analysis. “This past week, 4th through 8th graders have engaged in measurement activities that help them to better develop these skills, while younger students have primarily continued working on their individual projects. The 2nd- and 3rd-grade students also briefly used a petri dish computer simulation to further discuss data collection and analysis,” he explained. In the coming week, he said, “we will review all steps of the scientific method and engineering design process when we resume the peer review process.” The peer review process is new this year and replicates how scientists perform their studies in real life.
TNCS preschoolers got in on the March Madness fun, too, with an extra special visit by Baltimore City firefighters on March 25th.
And with that, March at TNCS ended in a blaze of glory!
The New Century School has a reputation for attracting multitalented, dedicated educators and other staff members. Le Von White, one of TNCS’s newest instructors who joined last fall, is the proof in the pudding.
Meet Le Von White
On spending mere moments with Mr. White, it’s immediately clear that he’s a true Renaissance Man. Among his many talents are acting, music, physical fitness, and meditation. He believes that the mind and the body are deeply connected, so to excel at anything, both the physical and the mental selves must be nurtured.
He radiates good energy!
Born and raised in Baltimore, Mr. White was educated in both public and private school environments. His experience at Calvert Hall College High School started him on his artistic journeys with acting and music, and he later majored in music at York College of Pennsylvania as well as earning a minor in political science. In addition, he served on the student senate and as a Resident Assistant and played trumpet in the college band. There he also ran track, establishing that mind–body connection that continues to sustain him. After taking a bit of time off after graduating, he earned a master’s degree in music from Morgan State University.
Mr. White at TNCS
Although classical piano is his passion, music is not what he teaches at TNCS. He started in the fall as a substitute teacher and is comfortable in all classrooms from pre-K right up through middle school. TNCS Interim Head of School Tad Jacks quickly saw that Mr. White needed to be a permanent fixture on campus, and now he does a little of everything, including teaching physical education, helping cover the front desk, overseeing recess, and doing aftercare. He remains part time, though, because if an acting gig becomes available, he must fly!
Teaching PE is a natural fit for Mr. White, who, again, believes very strongly in keeping both his mind and body in shape. During gym class, TNCS students do body weight strength training and ab work and also play games. Mr. White is waiting on some sports equipment to arrive so students can develop those skills as well.
“I really enjoy working out,” he said. “Physical fitness is very important and I feel like when I work out, I have the physical energy to do all the other things that I do, like recitals, acting, and so on. l want to be the best version of myself when I’m doing those things.” The connection, of course, works both ways. Not only do his workouts help fuel his mind, but his mental activity also helps him stay focused and motivated. Which brings us to yet another of his pursuits: meditation.
Physical fitness is very important to me, but mental fitness is just as important. If I keep my mind strong and clear, I’m able to inspire other people and stay motivated myself. Meditation makes all the difference to me, and when I began taking it or seriously, I felt my intellect expanding. I’ve always been able to play piano but now I understand the music better and can perform it better. Meditation really works on your prefrontal cortex, and that’s where concentration comes from. I’m big on telling people that meditation builds this part of our brain. Just like a bicep curl builds that muscle, meditation builds the prefrontal cortex so that you can really focus.
During his second year of graduate school is when Mr. White got serious about meditation. He says he couldn’t concentrate and felt like he was playing piano in a storm. He got back into meditating, which an uncle had introduced him to, and that “silenced the storm.”
If you are feeling inspired, Mr. White recommends starting simply. Sit for 5 minutes daily with your back and spine straight and focus on your breath. “Try to remain neutral, so that no matter what thought comes into your mind, you stay balanced and calm. That’s gonna silence the mind and stop the reaction process. In that silence, you’ll feel both more energized and more peaceful,” he explained. Another piece of advice? “Don’t judge yourself. If you don’t succeed right away, keep going. Walk your path to the best of your ability.”
Mr. White and Piano
So what about tickling the ivories? Before coming to TNCS, Mr. White taught music and music history in a city middle school, but he wasn’t reaching students the way he wanted to. He cared about his students, and it hurt him to see all of the obstacles they faced. On coming to TNCS, he found the right balance. “I really feel like I’m making a difference here. I feel like I’m inspiring the kids here,” he said.
He finds ways to work in some piano playing and gave a Black History Month concert for TNCS students last month. “I played some popular artists like Michael Jackson and Aretha Franklin, the King of Ragtime Scott Joplin, and my personal love, classical music,” he explained. “Mozart, Beethoven, and other composers from Germany and Austria in the 1700s and 1800s are where my passion is. Schumann is my favorite composer, and I also compose some music.” He even whips out some Disney songs on his keyboard from, for example, the Aladdin and Winnie the Pooh soundtracks, when he’s in the pre-K classroom, making those students very, very happy.
Are you ready? Here are some clips of Mr. White’s piano playing (which, like his swath of talents, spans many genres):
You can also follow Mr. White on Instagram at Vandal_Savage1943, where he lists ventriloquist as yet another talent (see some TikToks below)!
If it seems like Mr. White leads a charmed life given his many gifts, like everyone, he has had his share of ups and downs. He recounts how he started skipping school in 6th grade. His mother, whom he credits for his success, made any sacrifice necessary to get him into a more regimented environment. She must be very gratified and proud at how her efforts paid off! He has found an outlet for his multitude of talents, and they have come together perfectly.
Mr. White sometimes gives piano lessons through City Strings if you’d like to avail yourself of his talents! You can also see him acting in various commercials (such as Disco Skincare for Men) and on the HBO Max series We Own This City, premiering April 25th, in which he plays a correctional officer. We hope this part gets him closer to his dream of making it to Hollywood!