• Rick Joseph

Newberry - Where Resilience and Community Flourish

If I were to consider a definition of community spirit, I need look no further than the atmosphere at Newberry Elementary and High School. Located close to Taquamenon Falls in Luce County, I had the honor of spending a day in Newberry where I met some remarkable educators and students.

When I asked a group of seniors to give me an idea of what they appreciate most about their school, they didn’t hesitate. “The teachers,” one student mentioned, “they care about you. If you need something you can go to them and they will help you.” This reality was clearly manifest in every classroom I visited. Teachers spent an extraordinary amount of time serving the needs of their students both in and out of the classroom. Judy Haupt, the dedicated guidance counselor at Newberry High School, said, “the community comes together to support the kids. If a girl needs a dress for prom, someone finds a way to get her one. If a kid needs a ride to a college visit, someone steps up.”

At the elementary level, I witnessed students motivated and engaged in every classroom I visited. Kaitlyn Middleton’s 4th graders were enthusiastically reading scripts for a play before they proceeded to the work of planning and sketching props. Their ability to array themselves around the room, indicated their teacher’s awareness of the need some students have to move a bit and stretch out as they work.

At Newberry High, one of the many outstanding educators I met was history teacher Randy Griffis. Mr. Griffis is one of those teachers who is utterly dynamic, larger than life and extraordinarily charismatic. The joyful expressions on the faces of his students and the way he uniquely relates to each one indicate his level of awareness and dedication to their learning. I wish I had had a Mr. Griffis when I was in high school.

Teachers in Newberry are accustomed to maximizing every available resource for the benefit of the students they serve. They are creative, resourceful and unfailingly dedicated. I was inspired by the relentless concern these educators display for the children and the community of Newberry.

An eager Newberry High School student shows me the robotics room as I was taken back to the drawing board

Newberry High School students consider the strengths and challenges they face throughout their day

Community is key in smaller schools such as Newberry

Mr. Griffis engages his students in robust discussion as he makes history relevant to our present reality

Kaitlyn Middleton sets intentions for success by crafting a strong culture of care in her fourth grade classroom

Fourth grade students choose seats that best match their learning style to facilitate engagement

4th grade students practice for a play

At NHS, strong community requires effective communication

Dr. David Barry, Superintendent of Schools and Judy Haupt, Guidance Counselor are just two of many dedicated educators that create an atmosphere of learning and individualized care at Newberry

Taquamenon Area Schools is the largest school district east of the Mississippi River, located in a relatively isolated part of the Upper Peninsula where moose are known to roam