Teacher of the year
June 4, 2012 · 8:36 AM
Rich Newell has been selected as teacher of the year for the Central Kitsap School District.
Newell, or “Señor Newell” as he is sometimes known to his students, teaches Spanish at Central Kitsap High School. He has worked for the school district for 25 years. He has served as the chair for the world language department for 21 years.
To become teacher of the year, an educator is first selected through staff nominations which then go to a district committee. The committee then decides on a single teacher from nominations throughout the entire school district.
Newell said his approach to teaching involves humor, respect and using personal experience to relate and inspire students.
Newell said one of the primary ingredients for relating to his students is his personal experience with the Spanish language and his travels to Spanish speaking countries.
“One of the things about living in Mexico and traveling in Spain is that I can offer lessons from personal experience,” he said. “Personal experience goes a long way with young people. One of the ways to teach is to share personal experience.”
Newell said it was his own travels that inspired him to become an educator.
“I was going to be an accountant and decided I wanted to be accountant for an international firm,” he said. “I decided I would never learn to speak Spanish without visiting. I applied for a year-long exchange to Mexico University and lived with a family there for a year.”
“The experience literally changed my life,” he added.
Newell said he fell in love with the language, people and the culture of Mexico and stayed in the country an extra two years. He said it was this love that helped inspire him to become an educator and to share his passion with his students.
Newell said education was among the most important ingredients in building a future for young people and he was proud to offer any advantages he could to his students.
He said learning Spanish opens doors to the world outside as well as opening doors within the students themselves.
“Learning Spanish gives them a chance to travel and be more successful in a competitive world,” he said. “It gives them a chance to compare their own culture to others and it gives them a better idea of who they are. It opens their minds and gives them another perspective on themselves, the world and everything important.”
Newell said he was humbled and surprised by the honor and felt he was among many educators in the district who work daily to help students build a better future for themselves.
Samantha Borson, who is a senior at Central Kitsap High School and Newell’s student teaching assistant, said Newell is a great teacher and a great guy.
“He forms relationships with students,” Borson said. “That inspires students to become more involved in their education. He engages with the students. I feel like I can talk to him about anything. “
Stephen Coons, who is the principal at Central Kitsap High School, said Newell earned the honor through years of teaching and caring personally for his students.
“I have known Rich for 13 years,” Coons said. “He is a fabulous instructor. He understands and engages students. He is very knowledgeable and approachable; he is a first-class teacher.”