PUNXSUTAWNEY — Jessica Newcome got a jump start on her teaching career as soon as she graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, having majored in early childhood education.
"A friend of mine had called and said there might be a position for an aide for the day care," Newcome said Monday. "Ann (Smith, retired SS.C.D. School principal) hired me right out of college. I called about being an aide, and Ann hired me as the director."
That was about 14 years ago, and today, Newcome is the principal at SS.C.D. School, succeeding former principal Dawn Bressler — who is now the middle school/high school principal at DuBois Central Catholic — Aug. 1.
A graduate of Purchase Line High School, Newcome said she wanted to be a teacher "since I was little. My aunt taught at Marion Center and as the head teacher at the elementary level. She was kind of my role model."
Newcome first served as the director of the day care program, then as the director of the pre-school program.
In 2001, the year her son, Carter, was born, SS.C.D.'s day care program closed, so she directed the pre-school program exclusively, also teaching computer classes to students in grades K-4.
"They kind of sent me everywhere," she said.
Today, she continues to use her knack for technology at the school, adding her own Web page in conjunction with the school's site to provide parents with information about ongoing activities, fund-raisers and other events.
Newcome completed her master's degree through Ashford University'sonline program last December and began thinking about what more she could do with her education career. Not long after that, the principal's position at SS.C.D. opened up.
"I didn't think I would be allowed to apply, because I'm not Catholic," she said. "But they called and said,'Are you interested in applying?'"
Newcome got the job and is now working on earning her principal's certification.
Currently, SS.C.D.School employs nine teachers for about 104 students in grades Pre-K through eight.
"I would like to see that increase, but we just have to figure out how," Newcome said.
At SS.C.D., Newcome has served on the Home & School board for a number of years, well as well helping with the annual auction and the school's participation in the Home for the Holidays parade.
When she's not at school — or "running my kids to their sports," she said — Newcome plays volleyball at local churches and spends time with son Carter, a fifth-grader at Punxsutawney Area Middle School, and daughter Ella, a second-grader at SS.C.D.
At her church, First Church of God, Newcome has served as stage manager for the annual Living Christmas Tree for more than 10 years.
While she said her current post is "busy, but quiet," Newcome said she'll miss her pre-school students.
"I'm used to creating stuff" for the classroom, she said. "They called me the 'Cardboard Queen.' It's different, and it dawned on me I won't get to read Halloween stories this year. I'll miss decorating and reading the fun stories for each of the holidays."
While she may not be in the classroom, her students know where she is and what she's doing these days.
"They peak in and look in the windows, and they wave," Newcome said.
"It has a nice family feel, and who doesn't like that where they work," she said about her many years at SS.C.D. "You know everybody, everybody knows you ... I think I've grown up here more than anything."