By day he’s a Spanish professor, but any other time he is the cofounder of a puppetry troupe.
Jared White, associate professor of Spanish, is one of the newest additions to the Hillsdale College faculty. In his first semester, he is teaching two sections of Spanish 101 and Spanish 413: Spanish Literature: 1140 – 1700.
White grew up in Southern California and spent a lot of time immersed in the Spanish language. At 20, he moved to Mexico and spent two years serving as a missionary.
During his time in Mexico, and upon returning to the United States and beginning his college studies, White discovered his passion for the liberal arts.
“I’m a very social person,” White said. “I need dialogue. I need to talk to people.”
White decided to pursue the liberal arts at Brigham Young University. While at BYU, he got involved with Spanish theater and discovered his passion for the language. White went on to get a bachelor’s degree and later a master’s degree in Spanish from BYU. In 2006, he attended the University of California, Irvine and got his Ph.D. in Spanish literature.
For the past several years, White has been an associate professor teaching at Buena Vista University, in Iowa, but when a position opened up at Hillsdale, he decided to apply.
“I really felt like the institution valued some of the same things that I valued and it felt like a very good fit,” White said.
White’s creativity in teaching students was one of the things that stood out during the hiring process, said Todd Mack, chair of the Spanish department. Mack and White met in graduate school at BYU, and have been friends for several years.
“I was particularly impressed with his ability to engage with the community in very creative ways,” Mack said. “And of course, his good nature and great energy as a teacher.”
White said he tries to create a space where his students are excited to engage with the material. One of the ways he does this is by using everything from games to interactive conversations in the classroom.
“I try to bring a lot of energy to the classroom,” White said.
Jack Cote, a freshman in one of White’s Spanish 101 sections, agreed.
“I love how engaged he keeps you throughout the class,” he said. “You can tell that he’s very passionate about what he does and that he also enjoys building relationships with students.”
White said while he teaches very interactively, he refuses to use music in the classroom.
“I’ll die on that hill,” White said, laughing.
Teaching classes isn’t the only thing keeping White busy. Two years ago, he co-founded a puppetry troupe that puts on shows for local junior high and elementary school classes.
“We will frequently adapt Spanish Golden Age works into English and, after making the puppets, take those shows out to junior high and elementary schools to put on for the kids,” White said.
Many parts of the puppets used in the miniature theater are made by a 3D printer.
“It’s just so much more convenient and sturdy,” White said.
These shows are something he plans to bring his students into, as he hopes to perform shows at local schools in the coming months.
“I’m super excited about the ways he is already planning to help our students get into the community,” Mack said.
Mack said that White, with his background and expertise in Spanish theater, is bringing something both beneficial and unique to the Spanish department at Hillsdale.
“Dr. White is a great scholar,” Mack said. “His specialty in Spanish theater across a variety of time periods helps to round out our department.”
White is also an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy and, in his free time, you’ll probably find him either playing board games or watching soccer.
“I’m excited to be at a college that values education and sports,” he said. “I can’t wait to start attending games myself.”
White said his wife, Emily, and their four boys are slowly adjusting to life in Hillsdale.
“She’s my rock,” he said of his wife.
White said they look forward to settling down and getting more involved with both the college and the local community. He also looks forward to continuing to grow those relationships with his students, while hopefully getting to share his expertise with the local community through theater.
“He is a dream colleague,” Mack said. “He is a passionate teacher who I know will really inspire students and help them to learn the language well.”
White said his favorite thing about Hillsdale would have to be getting to work with and really know the students.
“I’m really impressed with the intellectual rigor of the students here,” White said. “They challenge me to bring my best to every class.”