Jodi Newby was destined to be a teacher for many reasons, and her journey at both Portage High School and A License to Drive over the years has left an incredible impact on those who have been lucky enough to learn from her.
Newby teaches 10th grade regular English, biblical literature, speech, and dual-credit speech classes at Portage High School. Across the street from Portage High School is “A License to Drive,” where Newby spends her time when she is not teaching English. She has owned her driving school for 27 years and has been teaching at Portage for 13 years, but her favorite part about teaching at either of them is being able to build relationships with the students.
“It's funny to see them go from the beginning of the year where everybody's a little defensive, and they're not quite sure who to trust yet, and then it's neat to see that evolution throughout the year to them running into the room in the morning just to say, ‘Good morning and I'll see you later,’” Newby said.
Newby got into education because of one particular high school teacher she connected with. Her eighth grade teacher, Randy Patrick, is her main inspiration and the reason for her current position as a teacher.
“He was an amazing teacher and an amazing human. I would love to be that for somebody; I would love to be a trusted adult for students who don't have anyone else or to have that impact on young people's lives,” said Newby.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was hard for workaholic Newby to take a breather. Newby was forced to shut her driving school business down because it was classified as a nonessential business. During this time, it made her realize she had to reevaluate and prioritize her time better and not constantly focus on work. The pandemic has made it clear to Newby that she wants to work more on building memories with people that she loves instead of constantly working.
“It's strange because the pandemic was a forced breather for me and I'm not good at being still. I am constantly on the move. I get restless when I am not doing things, so it forced me to stop,” Newby said. “For me, I think it was probably a very healthy time. I know a lot of people have some pretty bad memories of the shutdown, but for me it has been very refreshing.”
When Newby is not working, you can find her doing almost anything outside. Whether its spending time with her dogs, camping, hiking, golfing, going to the beach, or laying in her hammock to read a good book, she loves the outdoors.
During the few and far between moments when she is not outside, Newby is donating to various charities and fundraisers. As an animal lover, she thinks of her dog when she donates.
“I see people that need things, and I have the ability to help so I just want to do that. What else is this all about, if I have something and somebody else needs something, why am I going to just hang on to it?” said Newby. “If I have it and somebody needs it, I'm happy to give it to them.”