As students and faculty members of Judson College bid farewell to the familiar faces of faculty that have long served on our campus, we also welcome new staff members into the Judson family. During their daily routines, students may notice new faces in several different departments, such as music, art, education, and religion.
One new face in particular belongs to Assistant Professor of Education, Dr. Allison Newton. Dr. Newton received her undergraduate degree in Communications at the University of Alabama before pursuing her Master’s as a Reading Specialist and her PhD in Early Childhood Education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Prior to her employment at Judson, Dr. Newton taught secondary English and literature in the Pell City school system for thirteen years, as well as teaching as an adjunct instructor of grads and undergrads at UAB.
“[My experience at Judson] has been both a similar and different experience than what I’ve had before,” Dr. Newton began eagerly. “I’ve taught undergrads and graduates at UAB, but in much larger settings. What I love about Judson are the relationships that you build right away. I teach mainly junior- and senior-level courses—so as a teacher you feel a profound sense of responsibility at this level, knowing that your students are going out and becoming teachers. It’s very exciting.”
An immediate characteristic that is apparent upon first conversation with Dr. Newton is her sincere love for teaching and her genuine care for the impact that she makes on her students. “Having an impact on 125 students a day was hard to walk away from,” she said, “[but] I thought, ‘Wow, I might not have an impact on 125 a day, but I could impact way more than that in the future by being able to impact young women [. . .] who will then impact their students.’”
Similarly, another prominent feature of her character is her enthusiasm for literature and engaging young minds in the world of reading. “My passion is literacy. My mission is to really engage in the local schools here—we’ve really started re-igniting the reading mentor program, and we’re doing it through the school’s literacy courses now. I could not be prouder of anything than what [the program is] doing right now. There’s no greater gift than to empower a child with the love of reading and the ability to do so.”
Dr. Newton notes that although the transition from teaching at a co-ed school has had surprisingly little effect on her teaching compared to what she expected, she has noticed that there is a “greater comfort” for the young women in her classes than what she saw in her high school classroom. “It’s wonderful that women don’t have to compete with men to get the attention that they deserve. The research is there that in the public-school system, the males get called on more in the classroom than the females, and it’s pretty fabulous to be able to honor women in that way.” Her face lit up as she began to laugh over her following statement, “Especially since I am one!”
A particularly exciting Judson experience that Dr. Newton mentioned is none other than Judson’s unique traditions, such as Pageant and Hockey Day. “I really did not understand what Pageant was going to be at all,” she expounded. “Everyone just told me ‘just go’—and when I got there, all I could think was… what is happening?! And then I went to Hockey Day, and I wasn’t sure of what to expect of that either—and then [the players] came out, and they had rolled the goal lines, and everyone was wearing tutus! I have really loved [experiencing traditions]. It’s all been brand new because I had no idea! It’s more surprising. No one has told me ‘oh, this is what’s gonna happen’—I’m glad my colleagues have let me have the surprise without telling me. It makes the whole experience really special!”
Anna Mag Reynolds, a freshman who took her Judson 101: Foundations for Success course under Dr. Newton, spoke highly of how Dr. Newton’s openness helped her to adjust to her college life. “Dr. Newton was a very fun teacher while also keeping the class productive,” she stated. “I really appreciated how caring and open she was as a professor.”
“Dr. Newton has been a wonderful addition to the education department and to the Judson community,” said Dr. Lesley Sheek, Head of the Department of Education. “She has especially impacted our teacher candidates’ involvement with the students in local schools. In addition to taking students each week to read with elementary learners, Dr. Newton has organized our candidates to lead high school students in college-planning/mentoring through a federally funded program focused on supporting students in Alabama’s Black Belt. Her previous high school teaching experiences have enriched her college classes and are supporting our teacher candidates’ preparation to work with preschool through 12th-grade students.”