Marvin Elementary veteran brings lessons learned in the military to schools
As we approach Veterans Day, Union County Public Schools thanks all of the service men and women who have served our country in wartime and in peacetime. Many of these former service members are now part of #TeamUCPS, including Gulf War veteran and Marvin Elementary Assistant Principal Deanna White.
Marvin Elementary Assistant Principal Deanna White is someone who takes full advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. It’s an attitude that has served her well throughout her life and is largely the reason why she boasts a resume full of diverse careers in the medical and education fields.
However, all of these experiences came to fruition simply because the New York native sat down to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test as a high school senior.
“In high school, it was mandatory that students take the SAT and the ASVAB. I had ideas for what I wanted to do after high school, but I didn’t have a set path,” she said. “After I took the ASVAB, the military began to heavily recruit me to go into the Navy because I was interested in the medical field. They started to tell me about all of the different opportunities available and it sounded awesome.”
From there, the young 18-year-old left her Yonkers home for basic training in Orlando, Fla. – an eye-opening experience she describes as being physically and mentally tough but also a time where she truly learned the qualities of being a great leader.
After basic training, Deanna spent the next few years stationed in Connecticut, Illinois and Washington, D.C. It was during this time that she immediately got to work taking advantage of opportunities to advance her medical career, including attending classes at local colleges and universities and receiving Naval training to be a hospital corpsman, medical technologist, autopsy technician and histotechnologist.
But it wasn’t until she began to serve as a substitute teacher to earn extra money while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of the District of Columbia that everything seemed to fall into place for Deanna.
“The teachers and administrators would always tell me, ‘You’re really good at this! Have you considered teaching?’” Deanna said laughing, adding that she initially balked at the idea of pursuing a career in the education field. “But I remember my counselor saying to me that if I find something I enjoy doing, I will get gratification for more than just pay.”
Before long, Deanna enrolled in Johns Hopkins University’s education program and ultimately earn her master’s degree in education.
After spending 13 years working as a middle and high school science teacher in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Charlotte and with UCPS, Deanna joined the administrative team at Central Academy of Technology and Arts, New Town Elementary and Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts. She’s now in her second year as an assistant principal at Marvin Elementary.
Today, years after leaving the Navy, Deanna still draws on lessons learned during her military training. She intensely values teamwork and is quick to acknowledge her team’s successes instead of seeking out any personal praise. Additionally, she added, the military helped to nurture her love of knowledge and showed her the type of leader she wanted to be in the future.
“You never know when you’re going to be called to be a leader. When school is chaotic, I can think through the chaos. I can think through critical and urgent situations and reasonably come up with an action plan,” she said, adding that the military taught her to constantly reflect on treating staff with respect when serving in leadership roles. “I’ve worked in labs for years, and even though it may have paid more, I didn’t get a lot of interaction with colleagues or even the ability to constantly learn as much as I do now. I liked working in the lab but it didn’t bring me as much joy as I have in my career now.”