Teachers’ Corner

Mr. Newell


Binsu Varughese, Reporter, Photographer

 Mr. Newell, our witty English teacher, graduated from Western Michigan University in 1997 with a major in English and a Minor in Math. Later in 2003, he received a Masters of Arts in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis from Wayne State University. In the following interview, Mr. Newell shares his experience of teaching English courses at UAIS while simultaneously advising for the Muslim Student Association (MSA). 

 Interviewer: Choose a quote that best describes your high school/college life and explain why you chose it.

Mr. Newell: “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance” – Confucius

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing” – Socrates.

In high school, I felt that I knew a lot because I was not challenged enough. College changed that; I felt more challenged in college. [It taught me that] you should step back and see what you are missing.

Interviewer: If you could go back in time, would you go back to high school days or college days?

Mr. Newell: [I would choose] college more than high school, [because] there was more of a chance to be surrounded by friends.

Interviewer: What was your friend group like in high school?

Mr. Newell: [Because] I went to small high school, not a lot of people were interested in the same things. [So,] my friend group was small.

 Interviewer: How did it change when in college?

Mr. Newell: I knew more people in college.

 Interviewer: Share with me how the following experiences were either similar or different.

Homecoming and/or prom

Mr. Newell: A dance is a dance. Not too different [from UAIS].

Pep rallies/ Olympics

Mr. Newell: Participation [for pep rallies] was only limited for athletes and [Olympics] are much [more] interesting

Games: Powderpuff

Mr. Newell: The level of spirit is probably about similar. [My high school] was more basketball crazy, but UAIS has more enthusiasm, more cooperation, like people got mad if they lost.

 Interviewer: If you had job in high school, what was it?

Mr. Newell: [I] worked at McDonald’s.

 Interviewer: If you had a job in college, what was it?

Mr. Newell: [I had] several jobs [such as a] writing tutor on campus, [I] pruned Christmas trees for two summer, [I] worked a third shift in a convenient store, and taught a writing course.

 Interviewer: What extracurricular activities did you participate in during high school? Did you continue this onto college? 

Mr. Newell: [I played] football. I was the editor of newspaper in high school. I also had a scholarship, and the scholarship group gathered occasionally.

 Interviewer: If you had an opportunity to study at an IB school during high school would you or would you not attend? Why?

Mr. Newell: [As an] adult, absolutely yes. Because my high school did not provide AP classes, I would be nervous and not prepared. [I would] want someone to force me to attend.

 Interviewer: What profession would you choose if you weren’t a teacher?

Mr. Newell: Something along the lines of writing…maybe even a museum curator.

 Interviewer: What made you want to be a teacher and how was the process of becoming one?

Mr. Newell: I have always liked reading and writing. In my senior year, I was part of an experimental AP class. There was one teacher who volunteered, and only six students who volunteered. I saw my teacher’s passion and [got inspired]. Being a teacher seemed not intellectually challenging, I was also willing to work with kids, and [that] set me on my way.

 Interviewer: What do you enjoy most about teaching?

Mr. Newell: I enjoy challenging students through literature.

 Interviewer: What do you find most challenging about teaching? 

Mr. Newell: Literary commentaries because it’s the least fun for students.

 Interviewer: What is your most memorable moment in UAIS?

Mr. Newell: Lip sync battle…particularly cool for teachers and students.

 Interviewer: What was one failure that you learned something?

Mr. Newell: A couple years ago, I planned my year ahead of time and the schedule [became] too ambitious. It did not leave time for questions and for students to ponder. I [learned] to be reflective and switch[ed] from being content center to student center.

 Interviewer: How was your journalism experience in high school?

Mr. Newell: I enjoyed it a lot [because] I got to write many different things. [It was] fun seeing people respond to things.

Mr. Newell helping Maya McCuiston in his current Sophomore English class.