Shifting from teaching speech and drama to speech, musical theater and stagecraft, Donna Hayes White began her professional career as a teacher at various high schools and a junior high school in Pennsylvania in 1961, remaining in this position for 11 years before transferring to teach in Hillsborough County, Florida, from 1972 to 1974. She then taught at Gibbs High School in Pinellas County, Florida, from 1974 until her retirement in 2005. In addition to this tenure, Ms. White sponsored the International Thespian Society from 1974 to 2005 and was president of the Pinellas Association for Theatre Education for several terms, as well as the Treasure Island Historical Society from 2005 to 2017. During this time, she served on the validation committee for the Theatre Certification Exam for one year and was active with the Florida Association for Theatre Education from 1990 to 2005. More recently, she has chaired the Secondary School Division of the Florida Theatre Conference since 1998, among other roles.
Prior to the start of her career, Ms. White pursued a formal education at Syracuse University in New York, where she attained a Bachelor of Science in 1961. There, she worked as prop person for a summer stock theatre for two years in Fayetteville, New York, and joined the Actors Equity in order for her to participate in a couple of theatre productions. Ms. White is also a certified teacher through Clarion University in Pennsylvania.
In recognition of her profound impact on the field of theatre, Ms. White received the Distinguished Career Award for Secondary School at the Florida Theatre Conference in 1989 and the Theatre Leadership Award from the Florida Association for Theatre Education in 1992. The following decade, she was awarded the Pinellas County Education Foundation Outstanding Education Award in 2002, which she received at a French restaurant on the beach where she was able to give and speech and bring her mother, and the Suzanne M. Davis Memorial Award from the Southeastern Theatre Conference, Inc., in 2009. Likewise, Ms. White was selected for inclusion in the 63rd edition of Who’s Who in America and the seventh and eighth editions of Who’s Who in American Education.