Johnstown teacher killed crash remembered by family, colleagues, friends

PHOTOGRAPHER:

PHOTO COURTESY OF VISCOSI PHOTOGRAPHY

Russell “Russ” Snyder, a mathematics teacher at Johnstown Jr.-Sr. High School, pictured in the school yearbook, died July 21 following a bicycle and car collision.

JOHNSTOWN – As the family of Russell “Russ” Snyder prepares to say its goodbyes Friday almost 300 people have donated to a GoFundMe to support his family and another fundraising event has been set for August.

The Greater Johnstown School District, where Snyder taught for nine years, is also looking at the best way to honor Snyder, said Trisha Miller, a spokesperson for the district. 

Snyder, 42 of Amsterdam, was cycling when he was involved in a collision with a car around 8 p.m. July 21 on Log City Road where he lived. Snyder was riding his bike home at the time of the crash, according to his family. 

The county is awaiting some blood work results before releasing a report on the crash, according to Jeffrey Smith, Montgomery County sheriff. He said he hopes to have that report available in the coming weeks. 

Snyder, who was born in Mayfield, was remembered this week as a very family-oriented man with a good sense of humor. 

“He liked to tease all the kids,” said Margaret Snyder, his mother. “He would do things like throw a blanket over his head and chase the kids around.”

Then there were the times he would play Candy Land with the kids in the family, placing real pieces of candy on the gameboard. 

“He would cheat on purpose, blatantly so he could get to a certain candy first,” Margaret Snyder said, chuckling at the memory. 

His mother also said Snyder liked participating in many sports from biking to hiking to swimming. Sundays were spent watching football with family, his dad said. His favorite team was the New York Giants. 

Snyder graduated from the University at Albany with a business degree and worked in the field until the arrival of his first son Zachary, according to his parents. It was then he decided to follow in his parent’s footsteps and become a teacher. He taught in both Albany and Amsterdam before getting a job with the Johnstown school district. 

Johnstown Jr./Sr. High School math and science teacher Scott Chamberlain said not only did Snyder’s voice stand out in the hallways of the school, but so did his heart. 

“Our conversations always led with math, but always ended with our shared passion for the overall success of our students,” Chamberlain said. “Whatever you needed, Russ was here for the whole school community. Russ’ influence will continue to push us to be better.”

Chamberlain said he, Snyder and colleague Jim Novotny became “the math guys,” “the Algebros.”

Snyder had the ability to teach students in a way they understood it, Chamberlain said.

“Russ had the very unique combination of a brilliant math mind, yet the ability to reach students with the greatest mathematical learning struggles. ‘I teach for understanding!’ was his mantra.” 

Margaret Snyder said her son would relate things kids were interested in, to math, like the probability of a wrestler winning.

Snyder was all about encouraging students too, said Erin Kelly, an art teacher,

“One time, Russ noticed a student’s drawing in his math class, and his instinct was to make sure they were taking art class,” she said. “He was always impressed by their talent, and never annoyed by them for getting distracted during his lesson. He always encouraged his students to pursue that thing that makes them, them. That is one way we can continue to honor Mr. Snyder, by keeping an eye out for those insights about one another and helping each other to shine bright in this world.”

Snyder’s mother said he once bought a student’s artwork, becoming her first customer. 

“That was his way of encouraging her to continue on,” Margaret Snyder said.

Math teacher Jamie Kohout, who shared a classroom in the same hallway as Snyder, said she will miss many things about her friend. 

“Not hearing his math lessons every day from across the hall, asking him to please stop ‘yelling,’ as that was his normal teaching voice, shouting across the hall the answers to math questions he was asking his students, debating with him daily over just about any topic, begging him to organize his desk, and laughing over his princess-themed podium are just a few of the many things I will miss, but I am thankful for the memories we have shared,” she said.

Paul Snyder, Russ’ father, has set up a GoFundMe for the family which has raised over $26,000 of the $50,000 goal, as of Thursday afternoon, to support his grandchildren, 14-year-old Zachary and 3-year-old Jameson, and daughter-in-law Heather. 

“The outpouring [support] has been tremendous, not only with the GoFundMe but with other things as well,” Margaret Snyder said. “People have been dropping things off at the house. It’s just been overwhelming to see how many lives he touched.”

A spaghetti dinner fundraiser will also be held Thursday, Aug. 11. People can purchase $10 tickets at either the L.A.B. Shack at 2532 Route 30 in Mayfield or at Snyder’s Convenient Center at 60 Elmwood Ave., Gloversville. Pick up will be from 5 to 7 p.m. at the L.A.B. Shack. 

People can donate to the GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/f/to-help-russells-family?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unknown&utm_campaign=comms_pmr2+to-help-russells-family

By Shenandoah Briere

Leave a Reply