Yesterday, we held a memorial service for Rita Cholet White, one of Block Yeshiva High School’s most beloved teachers for over 20 years. After hearing the many stories and reflections, it’s hard to know whether she loved more or was loved more by her students. Perhaps the question contains its own answer. She was 85 years old.
Several years ago, when Madame White was honored by the school, I was asked to write her bio for the Scholarship Gala journal.
I present the text here as it appeared. She loved it then. I have no doubt that she will love it now.
Rita Cholet White has been involved in primary, secondary, and higher education for over half a century (an extraordinary achievement, especially for a woman who is only 49 years old). A Fulbright scholar, Madame White has appeared in Who’s Who in Education, Who’s Who in American Women, and Who’s Who International. Presumably, one of these organizations will eventually discover who Madame White truly is.
A stalwart member of Block Yeshiva’s distinguished faculty since 1992, Madame White demonstrates her pedagogical dexterity by wearing many hats – as French teacher, English teacher, college adviser, and yearbook adviser. Fortunately, the French like to wear hats.
More than just a faculty member, Madame White adds flare and panache to the halls of Block Yeshiva, dazzling students and staff alike with her sense of style and fashion, her stratified vocabulary in several languages, her pluck, her wit, her irrepressible good humor, and her remembrances of the McKinley administration.
Additional distinctions include a degree from the Sorbonne and the University of Nice, the HEW Certificate of Merit, the University of Richmond Certificate of Recognition as an outstanding teacher, and numerous honors that are beyond the capacity of our computer’s spell-check software.
Persistent rumors that Madame White posed as a model for the Mona Lisa and has BASE jumped from the Eiffel Tower remain unconfirmed.
Adieu, Madame. We will miss you with all our hearts.