Getting to Know Principal Newman


Brooklyn Tech is well known as the largest public high school in the United States, with over 6,000 students. However, its size often leaves the administration disconnected from students. Students may spend four years at Tech without ever having a conversation with the principal.

Principal David Newman has led Tech’s administration since early 2017 when he succeeded Principal Randy Asher, first as Acting Principal. However, Newman’s ties to the school run much farther back. He had previously worked at Tech for twenty years; first as a history teacher, then as the Assistant Principal of Health and Safety, and finally the Assistant Principal of Social Studies before being offered the top job.

Despite his impressive career, Newman did not initially plan to enter the education field. He always thought he was going to be a lawyer, as he liked analytical thinking and was fascinated by government systems. While getting his Masters in Sociology, he started teaching Algebra to college freshmen as a source of income. Three days into the job, Newman realized he had found his passion in life. “I [said] I want to be a math teacher, this is the greatest thing ever!”

Newman is, himself, a product of the NYC DOE, having grown up in Whitestone, Queens, and attended The Bronx High School of Science. While in high school, Newman ran track for all four years and played drums for a punk rock band, Baby Explosion. He continues to play the drums to this day, and described music as a vital outlet for him. For as long as he can remember, it has been a part of his life. “Weekend after weekend growing up as a kid in NYC, I saw The Ramones, who are from New York. I felt like I was a groupie. I must have seen them 50 times. I liked the music because it was fast.”

Newman’s favorite band has remained the same since he was a teenager: The Clash. “The Clash are a little bit more musical and political, their lyrics resonate with me.” For the uninitiated, he recommends their song, “I’m Not Down,” a blend of reggae and rock music.

He once met Joe Strummer, the lead singer of The Clash, and reflected that “every once in a while in life you get to meet your hero and it’s a rare thing, and they never really seem to live up to what’s in your mind, but he was everything I could have hoped he would be. He was such a good person.”

Newman attended college at Penn State, an exciting prospect for him as he had previously rarely left the city. It was a big adjustment, and he recalled his new classmates laughing when he told them he had never seen a cow. “If an animal was not in the Bronx Zoo, I would never have seen it. I had a very limited exposure to the world, which is kind of interesting that I ended up teaching the history of places I had never seen.”

Newman has always had a love for poetry and literature, with a special admiration for Edgar Allen Poe. “For some reason…ever since I was a little kid, I have read his complete works and I’m just constantly going back and reading it.”

He is also an avid sports fan, rooting for the Green Bay Packers and New York Yankees. His dad was not a sports fan, but he read about legendary older Packers teams in books, and became a diehard supporter. “I go whenever they play the Giants or Jets, and have been out to Lambeau [Field] a few times.”

Newman also enjoys traveling and said “I feel that I won’t be a whole person until I’ve visited everywhere in the world.”

His favorite trip was to Scotland, and explained that “the people were so unbelievably nice, you go to a pub or ask someone a question on the street and you end up talking in someone’s house.”

He loves to experience different cultures outside of the United States, but even within the country, he explained that “You find these places where people are so willing to let you in and tell you about your culture, and learn about and appreciate yours. It puts things into perspective when you meet people from so many different cultures, in some ways.”

Within Tech, Newman is known for having an incredibly strong work ethic, which he credits to his father. “My father was a very strong figure in my life, had all sorts of theories of what to be a good person it was, and mostly it was a lot about hard work, and mostly that is something I’ve held on to.”

He has always applied his father’s philosophies to his life, and always encourages people to work as hard as they can and support each other. “Sometimes you find you’re Atlas and it feels like you’re carrying the world on your shoulders, which is tough, and it just means you have to work a little harder.”

While Tech’s size presents a unique challenge, Newman hopes to build as many one-on-one relationships with students as possible. “I try my best to talk to kids outside in the triangle, or on my way home, or in the hallways. For me I spend way too much time in my office with adults… [and] sometimes feel disconnected from the people we are all here for.” One way Newman has historically built connections with students is through the “Snacks with the Principal” program, which he hopes to bring back later this year.