Meet Mr. Newell


Holy Cross is filled with a variety of different teachers coming from different backgrounds, holding a broad range of different personalities and interests. Although they are teachers, they may be able to relate to students a lot more than one would think.

Meet Matthew Newell, the theology teacher,  who is a passionate and one of Holy Cross’ appreciated faculty members. Newell teachers junior theology classes and connects to students in many ways. He shared his nostalgic experience when observing the students of the National Honors society leave their classrooms early for career day. 

“I thought about the way in graduation, so many of the NHS students take the chevron hood thing that they get as an award over their graduation robe. It’s clear that they take it out of their package right then and there, and it’s like creased right in the little squares,” Newell remembered.

Newell connects this to his experience in high school as he too was a part of the National Honors Society, and had taken part in this exact unspoken tradition.

“I did the same in my own high school graduation, and my mom yelled at me and was like ‘You are not wearing this with this crease!’” Newell exclaimed. “She made me not leave until she herself ironed it so that there would be no creases in my NHS thing.”  

Newell also has particular interests in certain media, more specifically books and music. Although he does read a lot it tends to be more for his job than just leisure.

“I would really like to improve my fiction reading. Dr. Reinsch lent me a copy of his anthology or Raymond Chandler novels. . .and I loved it so much,” Newell continued. “But I realized since I started grad school I haven’t read for pleasure much, it’s always been for my job or an assignment.”

However music is something that Newell does listen to for pleasure, especially in several instrumental genres.

“My music would be jazz, both classical, instrumental, but also electronic and synth, or smooth, the whole spectrum. I like all of it,” Newell expressed.

There are so many subgenres of jazz that can fit his mood on almost all occasions. If he is energetic he may listen to some experimental music, and if he is looking for something more melodic he might listen to smooth or electronic.

“Some of the really dissonant or experimental stuff I have to be in a real, I don’t know, energetic mood or it sounds kind of discordant to me,” Newell stated.

However, when it comes to classical Newell has to be in a specific mood to listen to it. He prefers actually retaining the sound than just keeping it at background noise, so listening to a long symphony would not be ideal to him.

“Although for classical I really like baroque concerti because they’re nice and short, and they’re well structured,” Newell added.

Connecting it back to Holy Cross, Mr Newell shared his story about how he came to be here at the Academy. 

“I was teaching at Loyola University in Maryland, and I was an adjunct there at the time. Adjuncts are paid but they aren’t paid well, and they are also always limited to one or two classes so that they don’t approach what could be considered a  full time employee,”  Newell said.

Newell explained how his job as an adjunct was not working well for him, in terms of making ends meet while being in a doctoral program, so he searched the area for other opportunities.

“It was luck that one of my friends, his wife, was a teacher here at the time, and as I was sharing to my friend, ‘Oh I’m looking for work,’ she said, ‘Holy Cross needs a theology teacher, you should apply but you need to apply today,’” Newell shared.

Newell has been teaching at Holy Cross for six years. He shares what he believes is his favorite experience as a teacher.

“I prefer to look for meaning and the daily and the ordinary, and just the experience of teaching theology daily to juniors is itself the most edifying thing that I have gotten out of these past six years,” Newell expressed.

He described his experience as both a college and school teacher, and recounted how his college students in contrast to his high school students never really cared about the discipline or showed interest, and just took the class for the credit.

“My students, in general, bring far more passion to the discipline than my college students have. I studied theology because I love the subject and not because I want to get emotional energy out of my students, but I really do get incredible emotional energy being in front of students who are passionate, and that’s what this school supplies to me on a daily basis,” Newell emphasized.