Shari Flakus, Erika Waller and Jennifer Scotten, South Middle School
Everyone can take a photo with their smart phones these days, but students who sign up for electronic media photography classes at South Middle School, get to use more than their phones. Much more.
Two years ago teacher Shari Flakus received a Lawrence Schools Foundation Innovative Teaching Grant to purchase some digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras for her class. This spring she, Erika Waller and Jennifer Scotten were awarded another ITG which provided telephoto lenses to go with the cameras.
“This has allowed students to take their photography skills even farther as they learn about depth of field and how different lenses can create dramatic photos, even when far away from the subject,” Flakus said. “They are amazed at the quality when they compare their work to pictures they take with their i-pads or cell phones.”
The opportunity to use quality cameras and lenses has been eye-opening for the students.
“Telephoto lenses really made me realize my love for photography,” student Evan Bannister said. “Before this class, I had no clue how amazing photography could be.”
“I love using the DSLR cameras and the telephoto lenses,” added Sarah Derby. “I feel very lucky and grateful that we have the privilege to use them.”
The cameras and lenses are used for a variety of purposes at South as students shoot nature photos, portraits, and school sporting events among other things. However, more than photography and creative skills are being learned in the class according to Flakus. She explained how the students work both in groups and independently. and how well they treat the equipment with respect.
“An unexpected outcome from the use of the cameras and lenses is the growth in maturity that the students have towards the class,” Flakus said. “Not only are students learning photography skills, they are learning how to be responsible, respectful young people, which is my ultimate goal as a teacher.”