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Carmichael Hall

Jo Beth Newton

Ed.D., The University of Alabama, 1982. Curriculum & Instruction.

M.A.,University of Montevallo, 1980. Counseling and Guidance in Education.

AA Certificate, University of Montevallo, 1979. Secondary English.

M.A.,West Georgia College, 1976. English Education.

B.S.E., Samford University, 1973.

Dr. Jo Beth (Jodi) Drysdale Newton, age 69, passed away on September 4, 2022. She was a resident of Homewood, Alabama. 

Jodi found great joy in family and friends. She loved visits to the lake and she loved reading and board games. Her kind and loyal spirit, along with her deep faith, were with her all of her days. She also loved her work. She taught in the educational leadership department at Samford University, and previously served as the associate dean of the Orlean Beeson School of Education as well as director of doctoral programs and interim chair of the department of educational leadership. 

Prior to going to Samford, 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. After Newton’s promotion, Homewood schools began a study to determine the need 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. It was the first school in the United States to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and opened to students at the conclusion of winter break in 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 Alabama Superintendent of the Year in 2003. 

She served as the superintendent of Homewood City Schools for more than 10 years, and as an assistant superintendent for both Homewood City Schools and Fairfield City Schools. She also cherished her involvement with the Hope Institute, promoting building character into education. She was a long-term member at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Homewood and served in several leadership roles within the church. Her imprint and legacy in the community of Homewood will be long remembered.

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. 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.

Jodi grew up in Bessemer, Alabama, and spent most of her life in Homewood. She graduated from Samford University with a B.A. degree and then later an M.A. degree and doctorate degree from The University of Alabama. Her first work was as an English teacher at Bessemer Academy and later at Fairfield High School.

She is survived by her husband, Robert W. Newton; her son and daughter-in-law, Bert and JoAnna Newton; her son and daughter-in-law, Ross and Allison Newton; her brother and his wife, James and Liz Drysdale; her uncle, L.T. Ward; her grandchildren, Reese, Owen, and Hank Newton; Thomas, William, and Patrick Newton; and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, and extended family.