Staff Stories: Naomi White

MTeach (Secondary), BA (Creative Writing), Adv Dip Performing Arts (Acting) 

Naomi knew from a young age that she was a creative at heart. 

Mentone Grammar English and Humanities Teacher, Naomi White, trained and worked as an actor, taught disadvantaged children in India, wrote and produced a play and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London where she learnt sword fighting and Shakespearian language. She attributes her adventurous life to a philosophy of “embracing every opportunity that comes your way” and she wants to pass that on to her students. 

“If I could speak to myself as a little person, I would say ‘Always believe in yourself. Life is too short to worry about looking silly so throw yourself into everything!’,” Naomi said. 

 As a child, the transition from primary school to secondary school was quite daunting for Naomi. “I went to a small local primary and found it difficult to adjust to going to a big independent school where I didn’t know anyone.” So, she threw herself into her love of the arts and discovered a wonderful network of friendship and connection. “I was heavily involved in music and band rehearsals before school, after school and at lunchtimes. At one point, every lunchtime I had something music-related on. 

“I realised the importance of building relationships with peers and teachers and drawing on the support around me - something I appreciate now at Mentone Grammar. There is a strong sense of collegiality and community, and I have made life-long friends.”

At school, Naomi’s favourite subjects were English and Literature. This passion for language and words led her to complete a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Creative Writing and to have an experience that would shape her life. “I won a writing competition for Harper’s Bazaar, got to have lunch with the editors and had my work published in their magazine. This love of language also led me to move to London to study Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.”

Prior to becoming a teacher, Naomi trained at the Actors Centre Australia in Sydney, and worked as a professional actor on stage, on television and in advertisements. “My favourite role was playing Eurydice in Orpheus in the Underworld with a group of graduate directors from RADA. It was very raw and experimental, and I loved that about it.”

Naomi has also worked as a full-time yoga teacher, training in the areas of Hatha, Vinyasa and Yin yoga. “These practices gave me a deep understanding of mindfulness and how it can combat stress and promote a sense of equanimity. As well as my love of literature, I also want to share the benefits of a wellbeing focus with my students. I run lunchtime yoga sessions and I’ve been able to see first-hand how nurturing the physical and social development of young people feeds back into classroom success.”

Since joining Mentone Grammar, Naomi has had some incredible opportunities, such as, travelling to Cambodia and South China on Year 8 Learning Journeys. “I’ve been able to develop great relationships with the staff that I work and interact with on a daily basis. I’ve also been able to learn so much from my students who challenge me and make me laugh every day.”

“I love the collaborative and collegial culture at Mentone Grammar. I also love that we are always striving to better our teaching practise and new and innovative ideas are always embraced and explored.” 

Author: Deborah Callahan
Photographer: Jennifer Blackburn 

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