Newton began at Homewood as the system's Assistant Superintendent for Instruction in 1993. Newton was promoted to superintendent 24 hours after previous superintendent Byron Nelson's retirement announcement when she was unanimously approved by the school board with her term to begin February 1, 1998.
After Newton's promotion, Homewood schools began a study to decide whether to build a new middle school to replace the existing one or renovate. It was decided to build. The project would be the largest of her tenure and not only came in under a tight schedule, but also under budget and was the first school in the United States to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The school opened to students at the conclusion of winter break on January 4, 2005.
Newton's other activities during her tenure included election as president of the Alabama Association of School Administrators (now known as the School Superintendents of Alabama) in 2000 and being named state Superintendent of the Year in 2003. Her tenure was not completely without controversy, however. The most public example was in 2000 when a Homewood High School student's parents asked the Homewood Board of Education to review how she handled a sexual harassment complaint they had made against a teacher. After four months of investigation, the board determined Newton had handled it appropriately and thoroughly.
Also during Newton's tenure, the Homewood school system or schools within it received the National School of Character Award, 100 Best Communities for Music Education, the What Parents Want Award, and School recognition for outstanding achievement for at-risk students under No Child Left Behind, State Department of Education and Governor’s Awards. The latter is somewhat ironic, as Newton has gone on record saying the No Child Left Behind Act "has damaged, and has the potential to damage, public education" (The Birmingham News, April 23, 2008). She cited the Homewood system's mission of every student reaching his or her potentional, which preceded the federal mandate, as helping the system deal with it.
In April 2008, Newton announced her retirement effective June 30. The school board selected Dr. Bill Cleveland, Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations, as her replacement. Newton began teaching a graduate level course in instructional leadership at Samford University after retirement.
Education careers are abundant in Newton's family. Her husband, Bob Newton, is Homewood's athletics director and former head football coach of Homewood High. Their two son's are Ross, assistant football coach at Samford, and Bert, head coach of the Mountain Brook High School wrestling team.
|Homewood City Schools Superintendent
February 1, 1998–June 30, 2008
- "Board taps Newton to replace Nelson." (September 18, 1997). The Birmingham News.
- "Homewood superintendent tapped to lead state group." (August 18, 1999). The Birmingham News.
- "Newton receives top state award." (January 11, 2003). The Birmingham News.
- "Homewood Board asked to investigate sexual harassment claim." (June 9, 2000). The Birmingham News.
- "Board: Sexual harassment complaint handled correct." (September 23, 2000). The Birmingham News.
- "December 2004 target set to open new school." (May 14, 2003). The Birmingham News.
- "City wants 'green' title on middle school." (August 27, 2003). The Birmingham News.
- "Estimate shows new school under budget." (January 21, 2005). The Birmingham News.
- "Superintendent Dr. Jodi Newton Retiring." (April 11, 2008). Homewood City Schools.
- Bryan, Kim. (April 23, 2008). "Newton cites 'great joy' in leading city's schools." The Birmingham News.
- "Homewood City Schools Announces Cleveland as Superintendent." (April 30, 2008). Homewood City Schools.