Teacher Spotlight – Ken Newton and His Passion Project Program

by | Mar 29, 2018 | Community

 What does it mean to be teacher? Many see teachers as that annoying person that keeps you up late nights with homework and projects. Others might see them, as Janis Ian would say, “Like dogs walking on their hind legs.” But ultimately teaching is the one profession that breeds all professions.
Sixth Grade teacher Ken Newton has made “Career Day” a thing of the past with one goal in mind; to inspire his students. Taking inspiration from shows like Ted Talk, Oprah’s Master Class, and Google’s 20 Percent rule; he has revolutionized and brought value to keynote speaking and mentorship. Through his program, called Passion Projects, his students are connected with various professionals allowing them a firsthand experience on what it takes to become that profession, what obstacles they endured and how they overcame them. The conference was led by the students giving them the opportunity to consider what they want to be when they grow up. Newton felt this program would “give the students real world experience” and that “it is powerful to see these people in person.” Like Google, Newton wanted to provide a space for his students to explore professions they are interested in. Initially, Newton sent out invitations to keynote speaker, but recently he has reached out to his students to see what professions they want to see. “Education has changed, in a way, as an educator you have to be creative…”, Newton shared. Newton passionately believe through these Passion Projects students have “the necessary time to do something different”. During the last Passion Project, the professionals included Anthony Breznican, a senior writer from Entertainment Weekly who shared his experiences interviewing and writing features on celebrities. It also included Dr. Neel Shah, a Kaiser Permanente family practice physician and Amy Wiese (also from Kaiser) a Community Benefit Manager. The project also offers speakers the ability to skype in, if they are not available to come in.  We applaud Newton and his students and look forward for many more Passion Projects.
Ken Newton is a 6th Grade teacher at Fair Oaks Rach Community School in Sulphur Springs School District. At this time, he is seeking more professionals to come speak to his students. If you are interested in being a part of Passion Projects, please contact Ken via email knewton@sssd.k12.ca.us.

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