With input from Kasey Middleton and Matthew Stuve
A lucky few discover their one true calling.
Retired educator Lois White was fortunate enough to discover two: teaching and painting.
Lois’s journey began when a teacher from her church suggested she pursue an education degree from Ball State. After graduation, she moved to Inkster, Michigan and taught 6th grade.
Two years later, Lois married Marshall White, who was in the military. The couple moved around the country frequently. At each new stop along their journey, Lois taught when she could find work in education and accepted non-teaching jobs when she couldn’t.
When Marshall was stationed in Libya, Lois couldn’t immediately go with him. In his absence, she earned a master’s in elementary education through Virginia Tech and then a second master’s through Ball State’s Teachers College, this time in middle school education.
After receiving both of her master’s degrees, Lois joined her husband in Libya and began teaching elementary students living on base. Lois later taught children in Rome and at the U.S. Air Force Academy in New York.
However, it wasn’t until Marshall was stationed in Japan that Lois rediscovered her love of art.
Lois remembers loving art from a very young age. She was protective of her crayons and remembers doodling during Bible study.
A new friend, a Japanese artist, taught Lois how to set up a canvas, how to copy and reproduce a painting, and how to apply oil colors. Since then, Lois has been as passionate about art as teaching.
After Japan, Lois moved back to the United States and taught at Green Acres Elementary in Fairfax, Virginia for more than 20 years. One of Lois’s favorite things about working at Green Acres was a wooded area across the street. Lois visited the woods to observe insects and leaves. Those encounters with nature inspired her art.
Lois continued to work at Green Acres until retiring from teaching in 1992.
After retirement, Lois focused on her sketching and painting. She used the techniques she learned in Japan to create numerous works of original art. Some of the art has been sold, but many of the pieces were given to churches or former colleagues.
When Lois paints, her process is meticulous. She creates the same scene over and over, getting it closer to her vision each time. In fact, Lois has six copies she’s produced of Daniel and the Lion’s Den.
Lois finds inspiration in the image of Daniel sitting unconscious and surrounded by lions.
“I think if you have to have an abiding faith that you are going to make it through,” she said. “And also know that you aren’t going to be doing it on your own. You’re strong in your belief and you know where your strengths come from.”
Lois draws strength from art and also from the knowledge she’s gained as a teacher.
She’s passionate about both careers because she lives by a motto.
“Do what you love, love what you do,” she said.