Solving For Why

Written on 05/15/2024
Paul Batterson, Contributing Writer

After 30 years, White finds it hard to say goodbye to Worthington Christian.

(Editor’s Note: Two stalwarts of the Worthington Christian faculty are retiring at the end of the school year. Cathy Fischer and Kathy White have served for a combined 52 years. They will be celebrated at a drop-in reception on Friday, May 24, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Crabbe Courtyard at the Upper School. Cards and notes may be mailed to their attention at Worthington Christian School, 1485 Lazelle Road, Westerville, OH 43081.)

Olivia Noel (WC ’19) said Worthington Christian math teacher Kathy White saw something beyond Noel’s ability to chart points on a graph or use cosines, sines, and tangents.

White, who recently announced she was retiring from Worthington Christian at the end of the school year, saw Noel’s strength was in acting, not calculus.

“I was really struggling with calculus, and I remember Mrs. White saying to me, ‘This is a small thing, Olivia. You’re supposed to be an actress. It’s what you were made for,’” said Noel, who graduated from the American Music and Drama Academy in New York City. I remember sobbing after she said that.

“It just changes the narrative when one person says, ‘You can do this.’ Once you hear that, you know you can take those steps, even though it’s terrifying.”

For 23 years, White has helped students overcome their fear of math to get where they should be.

“Worthington Christian School has been part of my life for almost thirty years,” White said. “I have been blessed to teach wonderful students throughout the last twenty years. I have learned that when God has His hand on a student, He chases after them.

“I have never taught a ‘bad’ child. They might be a bit disengaged from learning or trying to turn away from the Lord, but they are still students we love and pray for. 

“I know that what we see from students in high school is not at all what they will be like in five or ten years. We see the students as God sees them.”

The school has been more than just a teaching job for White. All five of Kathy and Chris White’s kids—Tim (WC ’98), Lori (WC ’99), Paul (WC ’02), Matthew (WC ’04), and David (WC ’08)—attended Worthington Christian. Lori, who married Brant Long (WC ’99), and David, who married Courtney Boggs (WC ’08), also met their respective spouses at the school.

White said there are many reasons Worthington Christian has been able to remain a close-knit community rather than a place that students just attend.

“We see the students as God sees them,” White said. “The best place for God’s children is always to find a good fellowship with others who are children of God. That is what WC provides.”

Principal Tim Kraynak described White as the ultimate Warrior.

“She’s faithful, loyal, and dedicated,” he said. She’s also a consummate team player and a consummate professional.

“Here’s a perfect example. When she found out a couple of other math teachers were not coming back next year, she said to me, ‘I’ll come back if you need me. I don’t want to leave you guys in a bind.’”

Kraynak said most of her students described White as “kind-hearted” and “compassionate.” “I’ve never heard a student say anything negative about her,” he added.

White’s strength appears to be figuring out “why” instead of trying to solve for X. The teacher said two essential skills for teachers and parents are accepting students for who they are and seeing what they could be.

“Parents need to realize that their high school student who is suddenly challenging them and their values needs to be prayed for and loved,” White said. “They will eventually return.

“My message to students as I leave WC is to understand that once they have given their lives to Christ, they are aliens in this world. They may try to be part of the world, but because of their commitment to Christ, they will never be at home there.”