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Portage Township Media

Portage Township Media

PHS English Teacher, Jodi Newby, Releases First Novel “She Used To Be”


There are times when life confronts you with hard truths and unanswered questions, and for some, those moments can lead to a sense of uncertainty of where to go and what to do next. But for Jodi Newby, English teacher at Portage High School, the answer was clear: she needed to live the life she had always wanted.


Newby has not only been working at PHS for the past 15 years, but she also owns local driver’s ed school, A License To Drive. She also lives happily with fellow PHS teacher, Josh Cavan, and their three dogs in the peaceful country.


“I try to spend time with family and friends whenever I can. And I love to travel!” Newby shared.


Newby has always been drawn to writing ever since she was young. Her nostalgia and creativity as a child inspired her to write her own novel.

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“When I was a kid, we lived in the country and had woods behind our house, and there was a creek that ran through the woods. I would often take my journal out to the woods and sit on the creek bank or a fallen log and just write. I also loved the stories of women who were born in the early 1900s and thought they would make a great book.”


Upon the planning of the novel, she realized enough is enough. It was time to finally write the book she has wanted since she was a little girl.


“A couple of years ago I turned 50, and something just clicked in my brain. I suddenly felt like life was hurtling by me, and I wasn’t doing any of the things I’d really wanted to do. I had always wanted to write a book, and I thought, ‘What the heck am I waiting for? Do the BLEEP-ing thing!’”


When asked why she would choose the name “She Used To Be” as the title of the novel, she said, “The novel has 2 main characters: Maddie and Leah, who are grandmother and granddaughter. The story focuses on their development as women: who they were when they were young and who they are as they age. I loved the idea of the granddaughter learning who her grandma ‘used to be’ as a young woman.”


Newby was surprised to hear that the other people she knows that have published books hated the different obstacles.


“I absolutely loved every part of the process. I would love to do it a million times over if I could,” she said. “I especially loved thinking about the characters’ personalities and what types of experiences could have happened to them to make them that way (it’s something I always do with my students, actually).”


She shared that it is usually difficult to accept compliments or brag about her own accomplishments, but this time it’s different. Although several readers are wondering if she is planning on any further editions to She Used To Be, she believes their storyline is complete. That does not mean Newby is done completely, though.


“She reached her goals; she grew as I needed her to. I don’t think there’s more to her story. Plus, Maddie was my favorite character anyway,” she said. “Now, as for writing another novel. I can say that’s definitely in my future.”


Those that have read Newby’s book left stellar reviews including longtime friend and fellow teacher, Lisa Warne.


“This book hit me in all the feels! The story of Leah and Grandma Maggie’s relationship and struggle to find their voice, stop being people pleasers, and ‘making the most of this one life’ remind me of so many women including myself,” Warne said. “This book is a true testament for all women- realize your worth, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself to those that are hurting you, and be your authentic, raw, and true self without fear of judgment. I couldn’t put this beautifully written book down. A must read for all women.”


Newby would like to thank everyone who encouraged her along her journey and those that took the time to read her first novel.


“I really hope they liked it and that it spoke to them. I hope they take to heart Maddie’s most profound words, ‘You got this one life. How do you want to spend it?’”

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