Dr. Paul Douglas Newman, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown professor of history, is the recipient of the History Channel’s 2008 “Save Our History” Teacher of the Year Award. He will be recognized at a ceremony Friday, May 2 in Washington, D.C.
“I am both honored and humbled to have been nominated for this prestigious national award by my colleagues who teach history at the secondary school and college level, and I am thrilled to accept it on behalf of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Northern Cambria High School and its outstanding students and teachers, all of my wonderful teachers throughout the years, and especially the thousands of pupils it has been my great pleasure to teach and learn from over the last decade and a half,” said Dr. Newman.
In 2007, Dr. Newman co-authored, with Anne Staples of the Coal Country Youth Hangout in Northern Cambria, a $10,000 “Save Our History” grant from the History Channel to fund a local research project for select Northern Cambria High School students. In September he and 15 students began conceptualizing, researching, producing, filming, and editing a one-hour video documentary about Cambria County Vietnam War veterans. The project was coordinated with Karen Bowman, Northern Cambria High School social studies teacher, who helped with scheduling and running four regional “Vietnam Veteran Documentation Days,” coordinating media, and served as co-chaperone on a filming trip to Washington, D.C. Her help was integral to the project’s success.
According to Dr. Newman, October 2007 marked the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. combat death in Vietnam, Captain Harry Griffith Cramer Jr. of Johnstown. “The 50th anniversary came and went with no fanfare. Meanwhile, another mega-documentary honoring the veterans of World War II appeared on PBS and dominated American attention.
“Our film gives local Vietnam Vets a venue for their voices to reflect upon this anniversary. It is our hope that it will spark a national remembrance and conversation about the Vietnam experience as we approach the 50th anniversary of President Johnson’s 1965 escalation of hostilities coming in 2015. The students have collected hours of interviews from more than 20 local vets, including U.S. Representative John Murtha. They have filmed locations in Johnstown, Ebensburg, Northern Cambria, Windber, and Washington, D.C. The movie will premiere on June 15 in Northern Cambria,” said Dr. Newman. Dr. Newman hopes to show the film publicly in Johnstown and Ebensburg as well.
Dr. Newman earned his bachelor’s degree from York College of Pennsylvania, and master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Kentucky. He is the editor of Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies and has published a book titled, Fries’s Rebellion: The Enduring Struggle for the American Revolution (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). He began his career at UPJ in 1995 and teaches courses in Early American history.
To view a three-minute video preview trailer, visit click here.
Founded in 1927, UPJ is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. A vital knowledge center and a foremost contributor to the area’s educational, social, cultural, and economic environment, UPJ offers a high quality educational experience that is purposefully designed to prepare students for the real world of the 21st century.