John Newport strives to have a positive impact on young people, whether coaching them on the soccer field or improving their math and science skills in the classroom.
He especially wants to make a difference for those children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and face extra hurdles in school and in life; he wants to help them find success.
Newport, 37, is the Vigo County School Corp. curriculum coordinator of assessment, math and science. He also is one of 12 young professionals being recognized by the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce and the Tribune-Star as part of its inaugural “12 Under 40” recognition program for young leaders.
He says he’s honored to be named as part of the inaugural group and describes his peers as “a very talented and committed group of people.”
Prior to attaining his current position with the school district, he taught technology for five years at West Vigo High School, where he also coached soccer, and later became an assistant curriculum coordinator for three years in the office of career/technical education, where his focus was adult education.
Newport is now in his sixth year as math/science/assessment curriculum coordinator.
A Vigo County native, he is a Terre Haute South Vigo High School graduate who later studied machine trades at Vincennes University. He later obtained a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology (a teaching degree), from Indiana State University.
Newport has been involved in community organizations such as the Terre Haute Children’s Museum; United Way of the Wabash Valley and its program, Real Men Read, and Junior Achievement. In the past, he’s been on the Habitat for Humanity board and served as its president for two years. He is married and the father of three children ages 9, 7 and 3.
He currently is on the Children’s Museum board and helps plan exhibits; right now, a giant Light Brite is in the works.
Newport is a volunteer coach with the Vigo County Youth Soccer Association, coaching both his sons on an under-10 team and his daughter on a 3-year-old team. “You want to talk about the most fun ever is coaching those little ones” and helping them develop teamwork skills at that young age, he said.
He credits retired Terre Haute South educator Ken Martin with being a “huge influence” in his life. While Newport was a South student, Martin “helped support me. I didn’t have a lot of direction.” Newport knew he wanted to go to college, but he didn’t know what major to pursue or how to pay for it. “He helped me find those answers.”
Martin encouraged him to pursue machine trades, which Newport did at Vincennes University. Martin helped him secure a scholarship at a company that paid his tuition at Vincennes, as long as he worked for the company for a year after graduation. (He also worked there summers).
While working for that employer, Newport realized the opportunities he had as a 20-year-old “because a teacher took interest in me and helped guide me to that. I thought, that’s what I wanted to do and help students find those careers.”
That led to his decision to pursue a career in education. He went to work for another company as a machinist, a job that enabled him to pay his own college costs and earn the bachelor’s degree at ISU; he worked nights and went to school days.
While teaching at West Vigo, “I saw an opportunity to be a positive influence with more students” he said, so Newport pursued his administrator’s license.
These days, as curriculum coordinator for math, science and assessment — which includes ISTEP-Plus — he looks for ways to help young people succeed at school, particularly young people from high-poverty backgrounds.
His involvement with the VCSC backpack program in recent years has opened his eyes to the challenges some students face. “I’ve always known there was a need — but I never knew what that need was,” he said.
Also, in working with the IREAD 3 summer program, he has learned even more about students’ personal stories and some of the learning challenges they face. Those are the things that “drive my decisions to make an
impact on our community,” Newport said. “I want to make a difference for these kids that help them overcome difficult circumstances and successfully learn.”