After 44 years, Nelda Newell leaves the classroom
MADISON – After 44 years in the classroom, Nelda Newell has retired.
Since 2000 at Bob Jones High School, she has taught early and modern U.S. history and advanced-placement courses in U.S. government and history.
“My retirement goals/plans are to do whatever I want to do, for as long as the money holds out,” she said.
Now, she will play tennis during the day, not at night. “I’ll work in my yard daily, not just on Saturday. I’ll read for pleasure and not feel guilty. I’ll never score another essay,” Newell said.
The Newells now will travel during the week. “I’ll not get up before 7 a.m., unless it’s to play tennis, work in my garden or do something with my grandchildren,” she said.
Influencing Newell’s career was “Mrs. Didlake, tenth-grade English and world history teacher at Starkville (Miss.) High School in the 1960s. I remember thinking this woman could probably walk on water. She was phenomenal.”
Newell has earned numerous awards but takes the most pride in her former students. “They rose to the challenges and gauntlets I put before them,” she said.
For her successor, Newell said, “Keep a sense of humor. Enjoy interaction with students. Make sure they know you care about them as individuals. That personal connection is paramount to convincing teenagers they can do things they think they cannot do.”
“Honestly believe in them. That doesn’t mean everyone will make an A, but they’re more capable than they realize,” Newell said.
Newell earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern Mississippi and a master’s degree in special education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is a National Board Certified Teacher.
Previously, she taught at Long Creek Elementary School in Kosciusko, Miss., in Jefferson County, Alabama schools and Hoover High School.
Her husband Dan B. Newell is chief financial officer of Jackson County Healthcare Authority in Scottsboro. Their daughters are Kim Newell, a graphic artist in Atlanta, and Amy Powers, history teacher at Hoover. The Newells’ grandchildren are Paxton, 8, and Braden, 4.