Support of all things theatre

(03-10-2010)

Enter the Adams State College theatre building's back door anytime during the academic year and you'll hear pounding hammers, power saws, shouted directions -- noise from the scene shop. Dr. Paul Newman runs the shop and designs sets for all the Adams State Theatre productions; he also directs plays and, of course, teaches the love of theatre.

"Dr. Newman's enthusiasm for teaching, directing, and designing was infectious," said Kristin (Hettinger) Holtz, Adams State graduate of '97. "You can tell he loves what he does."

Paul has enjoyed the success of numerous plays and awards with the support of his wife, Patti. The two have fed many a theatre work-study student at their annual end-of-year barbeque, listened to their trials and triumphs, and encouraged their academic and theatre careers.

Holtz said the Newmans are "amazing supporters of all things theatre." She appreciated visiting with Patti. "She has a wonderful demeanor and was always kind to the theatre students. Patti always welcomed us into her home and came to see the shows. Doc's love of theatre is expressed in how much time and energy he puts into productions and teaching his students. They are a wonderful, generous couple who truly care about young people."

The Newmans' dedication to students, education, and theatre prompted them to establish the Newman Theatre Education Scholarship for students during their student teaching semester. "We want to help students with a passion for theatre and teaching," Patti said. "We want to support student teachers at a time when they find it impossible to hold down a job while student teaching," Paul said.

Deidre Mark, the first scholarship recipient, said, "The award will help with tuition and leave some money for rent and food. It is an honor to be the first selected."

Adams State Professor of Theatre and Program Director of Theatre, Paul started at the high school level, teaching English and speech and directing plays. Holtz, who teaches at Silver Creek High School in Longmont, Colo., has directed high school and middle school plays for a number of years. She remembers Paul's stories of teaching high school theatre. "His face would light up when he spoke about the shows he did both with high school and college theatre. We spoke often about teaching and when I decided to major in theatre, I knew I wanted to teach it."

Patti is an educator as well, having taught the very young, up to community college adults. As the professional development director at the Early Childhood Council of the San Luis Valley, she plans trainings and administers a scholarship program for early childhood teachers, funded by the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation.

Dr. John Taylor, professor of theatre, said one of the great successes of the theatre program is the Bachelor of Arts Degree with Secondary English Licensure, which makes theatre graduates highly competitive in the teaching field. "The Newman Scholarship is important because it rewards outstanding students who will, in turn, become outstanding teachers."

The Newmans believe theatre is a valuable program in all K-12 education. "Humans learn through play. It is a key element in all education, especially elementary education," Paul said. Patti believes theatre can be a place for students in middle and high school, who "maybe don't belong someplace else. Theatre in the public school system helps provide a well-rounded education."

One of Paul's favorite classes is creative drama, popular among future elementary teachers. He always invites Patti to lecture on the value of learning through play and early childhood education.

"It was awesome to see how creative drama can engage kids and is actually being done, not something just talked about," Mark said. "Theatre gives kids a chance to express themselves. I love seeing kids discover their passion. It feels right to be pursuing this profession."

By Linda Relyea