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Former Ironton teacher on NBC Web show

A former Ironton art teacher is part of a national singing competition.

Jonalee White, an Erie, Pa. native, taught visual arts at the Ironton high and junior high school from 1999 to 2003. The show called “Star Tomorrow” was previewed on NBC on July 31 but all the voting and competition is on the Internet. The premise of the show is that 100 of America’s best unsigned singers compete against each other. Web voters pick their favorite singer to go to the next competition.

Under week four section, there is a clip of White singing Melissa Etheridge’s song “Come to my Window.”

Dean Nance, now superintendent of the Ironton school system, was the principal of the high school when White taught there.

“I’d like to think she got her start here,” Nance said.

At the end of the 2001 school year, the students were having a talent show and White asked if she could participate even though she was a teacher.

“I thought it might be good for the kids to see adults are not robots and we do have a life,” he said. “So I said ‘sure’.”

Nance said White worked with the music teacher for a couple of days and he didn’t quite know what to expect.

“She belted out a tune that was unbelievable, I think everyone was shocked,” he said of her vocals. White was so enthusiastic about singing after that her husband bought her time at a local recording studio where she sang along with pre-recorded music tracks.

“I remember her being so excited about that,” he said.

Nance said that the Whites moved after he got a job as a school principal.

White now lives in Cincinnati where she works as a middle school counselor and is also the singer for the band “HWY 32.”

“I’m glad to hear she made singing a second career,” Nance said. “We wish her all the luck in the world and we hope we had something to do with the start of that back at the old IHS talent show.”

White has her own Web site, www.jonaleewhite.com, with songs and videos. She has released one self-titled EP and has a full-length CD coming out this fall.

To vote on in the Star Tomorrow contest, go to www.startomorrow.com and hit the button “watch and vote” to see the videotaped performances.