Jo Newman joined Nueva on her return to Northern California after two years in her hometown of Mallorca, Spain. Previously she taught Spanish and French at Sage Hill High School in Newport Coast, where she was also an advisor and part of the ninth and tenth grade service learning team. Jo has owned her own language school, teaching students from preschool through adults. She has experience developing curriculum and creating workshops and training materials for teachers. Fresh out of college, she joined the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, where she supported a team of military and diplomatic advisors. Jo has lived in Spain, England, France, and Mexico. She has a BA in politics and modern history from the University of Buckingham.
1. What was it like to run your own language school?
It was both challenging and exciting. I hadn’t been teaching that long myself and I was responsible for hiring, training, and supporting teachers; creating the curriculum for a K-8 program; and teaching a number of the classes each week. Then there was the business side, in particular the marketing and promotion of the business. It was a balancing act that worked because I was surrounded by people who brought a wide range of skills to the business. In four years we grew to have almost 1,000 students and a team of 15 teachers. What I enjoyed most, though, was the time I spent with the students in class. For that reason, when my husband was asked to relocate for work, I sold the company to return to the classroom.
2. How did you find your way to Nueva?
After two years in Spain, we moved back to the Bay Area in early August, 2014. I had just got my kids settled into school and I was still moving into our new home when a friend forwarded an email announcing an opening for a Spanish teacher. Kim Overton and I had met years earlier when our kids attended the same elementary school, and I remembered her speaking highly of her experience at Nueva. I sent in my resume and ten days later I was back in the classroom. I had not intended to work full time, but after visiting the school and meeting some of the students and faculty I was going to be working with, I had no doubts about wanting to be part of this community.
3. What is your favorite phrase, in any language?
It always makes me smile when I hear “Por si las moscas.” Translated literally from Spanish it would be “For if the flies,” while its actual meaning is “Just in case!” I love words and expressions that don’t have exact translations.
On a more serious note, “The path is made by walking” is a very simple proverb that reminds me daily to keep moving forward.
4. What do you do in your free time? What does a typical weekend look like?
My kids keep me pretty busy. Both of them play sports, so I am often driving to and from basketball and soccer games over the weekends. Most Saturday afternoons I make it back in time to play some soccer of my own. Foster City has a fun adult league that I have been playing in for a few years. Sunday mornings I go for a long run or walk, and if there is time I try to do something creative. Most recently, inspired by Spain’s Moorish architecture, I have been learning about Islamic geometric design and learning to create some of my favourite patterns.
5. If Nueva were a word in Spanish, which would it be? Why?
Nueva happens to be a Spanish word that means “new”! Both words stem from the Latin word “novus” which also developed into “innovar,” to alter established practices. A very fitting name! If I were to choose another word, I would go with “duende.” There isn’t a direct translation into English, but it describes the sense of awe and inspiration that Is often felt when surrounded by art and nature. Working with students, faculty and staff at Nueva often feels full of “duende.”
March 17, 2017