I got Your Six

Joey Newell has served as our middle school principal for the last six years. He is an alumnus of Fairbanks and grew up in Milford Center. In addition to middle school principal, he has served as a teacher, coach, and athletic director/assistant principal in our schools. He talks to parents during school pick-up. He paints the stadium field on Wednesday nights. He is the father of a Fairbanks student and is married to a Fairbanks teacher. For many of us, he is a great friend, mentor, and colleague. For me, he is a steady hand and barometer of what is happening in Fairbanks. Few people bleed Pather Red and White like Mr. Newell does. 

Mr. Newell also had one of the most impactful conversations with me during my time in Fairbanks. Three years ago I said something in a meeting that was disagreeable. Mr. Newell expressed his disagreement with me in fairly direct terms:-) I asked Joey to stick around after the meeting to discuss further. During the final parts of the conversation, which was fairly heated at some points, Joey said to me “Look, I got your 6”. 

If you do not know, “I got your 6” means that someone has your back. It is a common term in the military that has its roots with fighter pilots during World War I. It is a term of enduring support between service members. “I got you 6” meant more to me than many other things in my career. It was important how we got to that point in the conversation, but more importantly where we went from there.

Leaving that conversation, I knew where Joey Newell stood. He shared his values, principles, and purpose as a leader. He lives these values every single day as a father, husband, educator, and service member. While sometimes quiet in words, Mr. Newell is very loud in his actions. He continually puts others before himself and that is why he is a trusted person across Fairbanks Local Schools.  I am very proud to call Joey a friend. 

This week will be the last week for Mr. Newell in Fairbanks for a while (He does always seem to make his way back;-). He reminds us all that he will still be around as a parent, community supporter, and barometer. We are very excited for him to take the next steps in his service with the National Guard. This is a tremendous point of pride and modeling for our young people. As Mr. Newell exits the official roles in Fairbanks this week, let’s all let him know how much we appreciate him and that we have his 6. Good luck Mr. Newell!!

  • Adham Schirg, Fairbanks Local Schools, Superintendent

4 thoughts on “I got Your Six

  1. Joey has always been there for me when needed and he is like a little brother to me he played ball with my brother Joe Landon. Plus Joey’s grandma has always been a family friend of ours for years. Congratulations Joey on your journey and thank you for your service not only at the school for our country as well love ya little bro

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  2. Mr. Newell has always been my favorite teacher since my middle school years and still is as a 4 year past graduate from Fairbanks. He is someone who displays kindness, respect, compassion, an amazing teacher/coach, and most of all, trust and honor.
    Mr. Newell is who you can easily joke around with and also someone who is so easy to talk to.
    When I would visit Fairbanks sometimes, he never fails to make me smile and make up for the missed times as once being his student with his cheery conversations and the way he acknowledges with the same care as anyone else too.
    Thank you for all you do and thank you for being such a wonderful role model to all my siblings who were once your students and also now too.
    Thank you for your service.
    Fairbanks will miss you.

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  3. I went to school(Fairbanks) with Joey’s mom and dad and am good friends with his Aunt Jean—l’m so proud of the man you are, Mr Newell —
    May God continue to Bless your life as you have been a blessing to so many—

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