By Jacob Miller
After a 47 year teaching stint at Ida Crown Jewish Academy, biology teacher Mr. David Newman plans on retiring. Following a career spanning more than four decades, Mr. Newman says, “I think it’s fair to say I’ve given my career to Ida Crown.”
Mr. Newman plans to stop teaching full courses at ICJA next year but will not cease his involvement in the school. He intends on holding a ham radio club after school once a week to help students become licensed in ham radio— a club that would likely resemble the ham radio STEM class that Mr. Newman taught first semester, which saw nine out of 11 students pass the ham radio test. Additionally, Mr. Newman may tutor students in biology next year.
Besides his retirement plans at ICJA, Mr. Newman plans to also retire from his morning biology teaching post at Hannah Sacks Bais Yaakov High School.
Mr. Newman is being honored at our March 31 scholarship dinner. Click here to join us or place an ad.
Mr. Newman’s teaching will be remembered for his weekly quizzes, spaghetti days and the trips he used to take with his students to the sand dunes.
ICJA physics teacher Mr. Allen Sears says, “Our department will miss that kind of wisdom you can only accumulate by teaching for over 45 years.”
Mr. Newman is from Chicago. As an undergraduate student at Northeastern University, Mr. Newman majored in biology with a secondary major in secondary education. He graduated midyear, in December, and began substituting for the Illinois Board of Education. There he primarily worked in middle school classrooms but received a sense of what working in the classroom felt like.
Mr. Newman’s own biology teacher from Von Steuben High School told him about the opening at Ida Crown; Mr. Newman interviewed with Rabbi Rappaport, then the principal of the Academy, and accepted a job as an AP Biology teacher at ICJA. Rabbi Rappaport told Mr. Newman about a morning teaching opening at the “girls division” of Ida Crown— an institution that later became Bais Yaakov. Mr. Newman applied for the job, was granted an offer, and has since taught in the mornings at Hannah Sacks.
Known for his analogy-based lessons and inquiry-driven teaching, Mr. Newman encourages students to think for themselves and asks questions to show students why biological systems behave the way they do. Mr. Newman explained he uses an assortment of analogies to relate abstract concepts to everyday life and keep the material interesting.
Mr. Newman is the longest-teaching teacher at ICJA and taught many of his students’ children and even some grandchildren.
Nathan Fensterheim, a junior currently enrolled in AP Biology, whose mother was also taught by Mr. Newman, says, “I know what impact Mr. Newman’s class had on her. It was exciting to share the same experience [that] my mom had over a generation ago.”
He also taught current ICJA Dean, Rabbi Leonard Matanky, his first year teaching at ICJA. “I remember him well,” Mr Newman told The Crown Prints. “He was an excellent student; he was also a little bit of a jokester.”
While teaching at ICJA, Mr. Newman gained research experience over the summers. For two summers he worked as an assistant at Searle, a pharmaceutical company in Skokie. Mr. Newman thought he would merely be an aid in the lab; to his surprise he was tasked with real research.
“I’m very thankful for having that job for two summers,” Mr. Newman says. “It gave me insight about research and verified the way I taught about research. I also learned that it [research] wasn’t for me.” Instead, Mr. Newman enjoys his daily interaction with students in the classroom.
A search is currently underway for a new freshman biology teacher.
ICJA teachers are sad to hear about Mr. Newman’s retirement. Mr. Sears praised Mr. Newman’s continual support: “He is always checking in and giving supportive advice without telling me what to do. He lets me make my own mistakes and victories.”
When asked why he remained at ICJA for so long, Mr. Newman says, “Why stop doing something you enjoy?”
Mr. Newman praised his students and says, “One of the reasons that teaching is so enjoyable for me is the contact with the students.” He explained that he’ll miss greeting students in the halls and hearing his students thank him after class. He said that only day school students are taught to thank their teachers; this type of gratitude from his students is a prime example of how great his students are.
“They’re the best,” Mr. Newman says of his students.
After serving as a freshman biology teacher for so many years, Mr. Newman has become a staple of the school; his presence as a teacher will be greatly missed.
This article originally appeared in The Crown Prints student newspaper and was printed here with permission. Mr. Newman is being honored at our March 31 scholarship dinner. Click here to join us or place an ad.