YATESVILLE — Greg Russick has a strong passion for classic photography used during eras such as the Civil War and Industrial Revolution.
Now, he’s looking to share his passion with his students, thanks to a $500 grant he received from the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS).
The Pittston Area US AP History teacher was one of 25 teachers in the country to receive this grant, having been nominated for it because a student nominated him for an award last year.
“It opened me up for funding in various ways,” Russick said.
According to the NSHSS website, funds for the grants can be used for supplies, materials, field trips or other resources to enhance the delivery of Advanced Placement courses.
Russick plans to teach students how to operate old cameras for a school project, just like photographers did in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
“I wanted to do something that was a little out of the ordinary and something I could work into the class in regards to STEM since everybody talks about that right now,” he said. “It’s Science, Technology, (Engineering and) Math and all that stuff. I figured, how can I do it with something that I’m interested in that I do?”
Luckily, Russick already has most of the equipment the students need for this project. But the grant will help him pay for crystallized silver, iron salts to make the photos and collodion, a photographic material that coats photos, sensitizes them and develops them in a darkroom.
Russick has always had an interest in old-time photographs with that interest peaking when he visited Gettysburg with his wife.
“I met my wife and went on vacation about two months later, and I met a guy in Gettysburg that does this,” he said. “I figured to myself that as long as I track things down, why can’t I do it? I’ve been doing this since 2011.”
Russick has spent the last several years tracking down camera equipment and old photographs to fuel his hobby.
He learned how to use the cameras by reading and taking classes from a gentleman named John Coffe. Russick’s work is displayed on Coffe’s website at johncoffer.com.
Russick hasn’t had much time these last few years to work with his cameras due to balancing his life as a teacher, a husband and a father but he’s working on remembering how to use the camera before he teaches his students.
“You can literally go outside and you can say that, once you learn it, it’s a feel,” he said. “I’m going to let this go for four seconds, and you’re dead on.”
Russick doesn’t plan to have his students use the cameras until sometime in the spring, but looks forward to doing something new with them.
“(I look forward to) getting out and about, and being in a setting that’s not your typical classroom setting,” he said.