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):
- Faschingsschwank aus Wien Opus 2, by Robert Schumann
- Jazz by African American legend Art Tatum
- Sleeping Beauty Waltz, by Pyotr Tchaikovsky
- Symphony 25, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Opus 28, by Robert Schumann
- …and, Hey Jude, by the Beatles
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!