16 Excellence in Education winner: Cleon White

A great teacher can introduce students to a life-long love of learning.

We know there are a lot of great teachers in Michiana because WNDU viewers wrote to us and nominated them for a 16 Excellence in Education award.

Principal Cleon White was nominated by students from the past and present. He’s an educator from Andrews Academy, a private school in Berrien Springs, Michigan.

White was handing out awards to students when NewsCenter 16’s Tricia Sloma showed up with the surprise award for him. He got a standing ovation.

While White is a principal now, he says he could never stop being a teacher.

“That’s my love,” White said. “That’s what I love to do is teach.”

That’s why his students love him. He’s a legend.

“He helped my dad when he was in high school, so my grandparents spoke highly of him,” said freshman Jonathan Constantine.

Erica Bradfield graduated a few years ago and she wrote in about Mr. White as well.

“In the classroom, he teaches with an attitude of love, of acceptance, and as the school principal, he has lead our school with quiet dedication and a humble attitude,” Bradfield said.

Current student Chelsey Cameron had nice things to say about Mr. White as well.

“No one really knows how much he has done for our school. He’s been there for so long and his heart and soul will forever stay at Andrews Academy.”

“He has a great sense of humor and a unique connection with the students,” said freshman Will Tee. “He is always in a great mood.”

Senior Alex Gaytan said he’s always been there to help students.

“From teaching kids Algebra at his home to those who need help, to acting as a second school counselor, always having his door open for anyone who needs to express something,” Gaytan said. “What I have learned from Mr. White and his gentle manner is that there’s never a time where you need to lose your composure. He never loses his composure and yet he gets his point across.”

He’s a trend setter too. Bradfield says when you think of Mr. White, you think of his white tennis shoes.

“We notice when he gets a new pair because they’re really extra white,” said Cameron.

“I don’t know how it happened. I just decided one day I was going to wear them,” White said.

It’s hard to keep up with Mr. White as he continues to serve God and motivate others.

“He’s a living example of how to live your life according to what God wants you to do," Cameron said. "He’s a great example of a kind hearted man and that’s how we should all be.”

“For me, personally, and for my colleagues, we don’t want to disappoint him,” said English and German teacher Tom Baker.

“It’s really nothing that I do. I don’t do anything. If there’s anything good that comes, it’s from [God]. I’m just here,” White said.

White and the school received cash prizes from our sponsor, Notre Dame Federal Credit Union. CEO Tom Gryp presented the checks.

To watch the other winner's story, click here.

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