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K-12 Influencers: Jill Newman

“Some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity…” by Gilda Radner.


Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I have been an educator for over 25 years. Seventeen of those years have been as a high school counselor. It is by far the best vocation! I feel exceptionally fortunate to be assistant students and their families as they navigate through high school and beyond!

Fun fact: I’ve traveled to 17% of world’s countries and my goal is to travel to over 50%.

Favorite website / app:
Favorite website: tinybuddha
Favorite app: EyeEm (to submit my iphonetography photos)
Favorite tech tool: my iPhone because it is capable of doing almost anything

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
I would have to say Jane Krauss. Jane has opened my eyes and my heart to computer science and how it touches every other career. Everyone can benefit from understanding computing, even a school counselor!


Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
Approximately five years ago I had a phone conversation with Jane Krauss, of Counselors for Computing, that was only scheduled to be for two minutes or so. We talked for two hours instead. Jane brought to my attention the importance of school counselors as gate-keepers. Since I did not have a computer science background I would therefore shy away from really understanding careers centering on computing. California and the rest of the nation was/is in dire need of qualified and diverse people going into computing fields. From that conversation I understood the importance of my role as a high school counselor in educating students, families, and other educators about the many pathways young women and underrepresented students can find computer science. I became an excited and more knowledgeable advocate for students going into computer science fields!! I’m so appreciative to have had this opportunity!


Describe what it means for you to be a K-12 Influencer in STEM.
I am in the fortunate position to be an advocate for students. I take that responsibility very seriously. Students and their families look to me for information and assistance in helping students realize their future. In the world of STEM there are many possibilities and pathways that are open to every high school student in whatever capacity they choose.

A few years back I had a student who was close to dropping out of high school due to her poor grades and lack of credits. I had hoped to influence the student to continue to try and graduate. We were able to find an online high school that could allow her to graduate I’ll be at after her class had graduated. She struggled and faltered, however she made it! Due to her experience taking online classes she grew to enjoy them because of the flexibility to work at her own pace. With that experience she chose to go into the military and her tested very high on the ASVAB military entrance exam. Her confidence level increased quickly and she decided to pursue a technology-based career in the military. The last I heard from her, she was doing very well!

What are your favorite workshops and/or conferences a school counselor can attend to find out more about STEM careers?  
My favorite is certainly CSPdWeek!!


What knowledge would you impart to other K-12 Influencers in STEM?
It is imperative as K-12 educators to understand all the possible pathways students can choose in STEM. Just as other school counselors have participated in there are many methods to obtain that knowledge and keep it current.

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