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Return of students still inspires veteran teacher

August 10, 2018

Even after spending almost four decades in education, Harold Flynn still looks forward to the first day of school in the fall.

The coach and history teacher at Deer Park Junior High School has spent 29 of his nearly 40 years teaching at the campus. Although he has started to ponder when he might retire, he’s always eager for the electric energy in the air when his students return from summer break.

“It’s really fun to watch the kids coming in the first day,” said Flynn, 63. “I teach eighth grade and that’s a big year for them — they’re the big dogs on campus. And if they’re coming in to my class, partly because I’ve been here so long, they know what to expect and they always seem to come ready to learn. They’re excited — excited about classes, excited about being around their friends. They’re just excited about being here and it’s my job to keep them that way.”

That eagerness for instruction is something Flynn said he’s noticed across the board. Part of that change might be that there are more options now for kids who learn differently than existed 40 years ago.

“The days of, ‘Open your book to Page 10, do the questions on Page 15, memorize these 100 dates and we’ll have a quiz on them Friday,’ are over,” he said, “and that’s a really good thing. We know that kids don’t all learn in the same way.”

Educators now have technology to help with that.

“We have iPads, phones, computer programs and apps now,” Flynn said, “and that hasn’t necessarily been easy to learn for an old guy like me, but it’s important to offer these different ways of learning to the kids. They learn better. And there are still kids who need the book — they just learn better that way; so we still have those options too. It’s been exciting to see how things have changed and what new things we can offer kids over the years.”

Flynn said he enjoys teaching and coaching in junior high. He coaches sports including football, basketball and tennis.

“You’ve got kids who don’t know a whole lot yet,” he said. “So, you’re teaching them the nuts and bolts of a subject. It’s fun — I really like junior high because of that. You get them when they don’t know much; so you have a pretty big impact on how excited they are about that subject. If you do it right, you can really get them interested it. You don’t get that same opportunity in high school or elementary. Those are different approaches all together. I’ve always just really enjoyed teaching them. Even at 63, it’s what keeps me young.”

Flynn’s wife has retired from a 38-year teaching career at Deep Water Junior High School and his son, Austin Flynn, is Deer Park High School’s head football coach. Harold Flynn is wrestling with when he may want to retire.

“I don’t know,” he said. “There are some things I’d like to do, like travel. That’s not as easy as it used to be because our summers are much shorter than they were before. And now my wife is retired. I don’t know.”

Maybe this will be the last year, he says. Or maybe not.

jennifer.bolton@chron.com

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