To many friends and previous students, Andrea Newstead, a member of Congregation Shaare Emeth, has been known as either a teacher from her work as the director of technology at Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School or as a colleague from her volunteerism with the National Council of Jewish Women. According to Halle Wasserman, a freshman at Whitfield School, Newstead is both a teacher and an inspiration.
“She [Newstead] has been an amazing role model and is always there when I need her,” Wasserman said. “She has always been very supportive and willing to help.”
Wasserman has appreciated Newstead’s support since second-grade when she was one of Newstead’s students. Wasserman still remembers her lessons fondly, even now as a high school student, but Newstead suggests that her teaching technique masqueraded deeper lessons as fun and games.
“I remember watching ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and having a whole unit about chocolate,” Wasserman said.
According to Newstead, this sense of memory was deliberate; she often took advantage of things kids loved and incorporated them into her teaching.
While Wasserman fondly remembers the chocolate, “the unit mainly included reading, writing and math,” Newstead said. “In the end, we got to take a chocolate field trip.”
Newstead attributes her passion for teaching to her upbringing, which is what motivates her to continue to keep working with children. “I’ve always loved working with kids,” she said. “I grew up being a camp counselor and babysitting a lot. (I) knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a teacher.”
This drive and motivation mixed with Newstead’s tech savvy helped her find the perfect job. When Reform Jewish Academy and Solomon Schechter Day School merged to form Mirowitz, the head of school asked her if she would take on the job as director of technology.
“I said I would, but only if I could continue teaching the kids,” Newstead said.
Newstead’s love for kids not only is demonstrated in the classroom, but also as an active volunteer. As past co-vice-president of of community service at the St. Louis chapter of NCJW, Newstead’s largest role in the organization was chairing the Back to School! Store. This program allows less privileged kids to get clothes, coats, school supplies and even glasses to help them succeed at school.
“I love being involved because as a teacher I know how important it is for children to have the supplies and the confidence when going back to school,” Newstead said.
Through NCJW, Newstead also volunteered at Lydia’s House, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to help women and children fleeing domestic abuse.
Idan Lerner, a Mirowitz alumnus, sees Newstead as an inspiration. He is a freshman at Parkway Central High School and a member of Kol Rinah. Lerner says Newstead is a role model because of her leadership and deep passion for helping others. He and Wasserman both hope to be good role models like Newstead has been.
“She [Newstead] has been a big supporter and has encouraged me to do my best,” said Lerner. “She is a trustworthy person who has helped educate me about technology.” Lerner has enjoyed learning about coding and being on the Mirowitz robotics team.
Newstead says seeing previous students grow into young adults is both inspiring and exciting. Some of the best moments to her are when she sees the sparks in students’ eyes as they begin to understand their lessons.
“I love watching how the kids grow up and mature into amazing young adults. I love seeing their hard work and their friendships grow,” Newstead said.