The mysterious Mr. Newell shares his story


Mr. Newell and his drawing of Spider-Man.

What constitutes a good teacher? Although there are many responses to this question, UAIS’s very own Mr. Newell answers it quite well.

“I think a good teacher needs to be knowledgeable and caring,” he said, considering the IB Learner Profile traits. “More than caring, probably empathetic. You have to try to understand where learners are coming from.”

And though he might not realize it himself, Mr. Newell does exactly that. Teaching high schoolers is a seemingly difficult task—one that requires passion and determination.

“I don’t teach in a real place,” Mr. Newell concluded about teaching high schoolers at UAIS. “You realize you’re not going to school in a real place?”

Tying back to his claim that teachers must be caring in order to be good at their job, Mr. Newell admits that he tends to want to plow ahead with curriculum quickly, like, “let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.” Despite this desire, he tries his best to “balance his expectations with reality” because, at the end of each day, all he wants is to “expose kids to new ideas and make them realize what the world is.”

Mr. Newell explained that he decided to teach English because what he has “always loved more than anything really is a story.” This love for reading, as well as writing, led Mr. Newell to determine, as he stated himself, “that teaching English would allow [him] to constantly work with the thing [he loves] the most and make a living doing it.”

However, Mr. Newell’s passions are not only limited to teaching. Beyond the surface, Mr. Newell has many interests that some students—and even staff—are unaware of.

For example, Mr. Newell enjoys comic books and graphic novels. In fact, his favorite day of each school year is teaching his juniors how exactly to read comic books before they begin their graphic novels unit. He credits the amorphous (his favorite word in the English language) structure of the IB English curriculum for this enjoyable opportunity.

“Even though there are guidelines about the curriculum, we get to choose any work that fits within those guidelines,” he stated. “I like the freedom within the structure.”

Mr. Newell has trouble picking his favorite novel, but defaults to “1984, which was always [his] favorite to teach as well as read.”

However, he more easily determined that his favorite comic book series is Hellboy.

“I like it because it includes mythology and folklore, and also monsters, and ironic humor, and pulpy action,” he said. “All of which are things that entertain me.”

That explains the dad jokes (ironic humor of course) that he incorporates into each of his lectures.

His interests do not stop there. During his limited free time, Mr. Newell often draws.

“I do most of my drawing by doodling during staff meetings,” he admitted.

Additionally, Mr. Newell feels he most relates to comic book character Peter Parker.

“Peter Parker is nerdy, which has been my identity always,” he clarified.

To describe himself in one word, Mr. Newell sighed, sat back in his chair, and took a long moment to contemplate before he said, “Tired.” He added, “I’m not as young as I used to be. Tired is probably fair.”

And even though he thinks this is the best word to describe himself, staff and students can think of many more that truly capture not only how great Mr. Newell is as a teacher, but also as a person.

Junior Anthony Nagle said, “Mr. Newell is passionate. He is insanely knowledgeable, and you can tell that he loves his craft, he loves teaching English, and he differs from many teachers.”

“He’s tough on you,” Nagle concluded, “but that’s because he wants you to learn the content.”

Students are not the only ones impacted by Mr. Newell’s presence at UAIS. Staff member Mrs. Hall, who teaches both English and IB History, struggles to use simply one word to describe Mr. Newell.

“He’s funny,” Mrs. Hall began. “Wickedly smart. Entertaining. Interesting. The greatest. A master. I need more words.”

Mrs. Hall admires Mr. Newell because, “He knows so much. He’s caring about our world and what’s happening and what’s to come in the future. He’s kind and so funny. He’s a good guy to know and learn from. And he gives you his time. I wish there were more. I’ve learned so much from him.”

So, although Mr. Newell, himself, may not realize it, he is what one would consider to be a good teacher. A great one, even.

Oh, and if someone may ever choose to wear camouflage to school one day, they should be prepared. He will pretend he can’t see them.