"Analytic, Nerdy, Coffee" - Todd
We sat down with Todd Newkirk, our newest year-round staff member, and Summer Focus camp director, to learn a little bit more about him. Read about what makes his camps so special, his favorite camp moment and more.
Originally from San Diego, Todd Newkirk recently joined the Education Unlimited staff at the home office in Berkeley, CA as Director of Summer Focus and Tours. An accomplished debater and summer camp veteran, Todd has worked at over 25 camps in the last ten years, and will also bring his energy and expertise as the on-site Camp Director at Summer Focus at UC Berkeley in 2017.
EU: Describe yourself in three words...
TN: Analytic, nerdy, coffee...
EU: What got you into doing summer programs?
TN: I was a summer camper growing up. When I began teaching I considered teaching summer school or summer camp to stay busy during my off-months and camp seemed so much more fun.
EU: What are a few teaching highlights?
TN: I've taught high school civics and AP U.S. government with a >90% pass rate. I've also travelled with students on hundreds of trips spanning twenty states and three foreign countries.
EU: What makes a successful summer program?
TN: A good summer program requires an understanding between staff and campers. Camps can be incredibly collaborative when the staff and campers have similar energy and interest. S'mores also help!
EU: Why do you love directing high school camps? What about that age group inspires you?
TN: I like working with high school students because together we can be honest and introspective. I don't have to tell them that policies exist because "I told you so," but instead I can build rapport by helping them understand my position and motivation. I think this builds trust and makes for positive educational environments.
EU: What makes Summer Focus students special?
TN: Summer Focus is an incredibly unique program. Like a normal university dorm, students at Summer Focus have different schedules, interests, classes, and expectations, and yet they all come together as a unified group. Seeing students self-motivate and ask for help is very impressive.
EU: What makes the UC Berkeley campus a great place for camp?
TN: Caffe Strada, Top Dog, Artichoke Basille's Pizza, Thai Basil, Moe's Books, and Amoeba Records. The university is pretty good, as well!
EU: What was one of the best moments at camp last summer?
TN: Taking a group of students to the record store. It was a small group and we had some great conversations about the music we like and the books we read. It was very personal and really allowed us to step out of the director-camper space while talking.
EU: What are you looking forward to at camp in 2017?
TN: I'm excited to meet my 2017 group and see them settle into life on campus. The weather is cooling off now, but it was hot this summer so I know I'll be looking forward to our beach excursion once the summer begins.
Feel free to call Todd at 510-548-6612 or fill out our contact us form with any questions you may have about Summer Focus, Campus Tours, and any of our Education Unlimited programs.