Top Teachers: Blair Flynn

Parents of students in Blair Flynn’s second-grade class at Nuckols Farm Elementary don’t have to wonder what their children are doing during class – they just need to check their e-mail inbox.

There, they’ll often find updates and photos of their kids that Flynn has snapped through the Photo Booth program on her laptop and e-mailed to their parents.

“It’s one of my favorite things that I do,” Flynn said. “Parents will call me and say ‘That just makes my day. I might be at work, having a bad day, and then I see my child smiling and having fun.’”

Flynn prides herself on teaching in a way that produces results for each child, regardless of his or her learning style. During a recent lesson about magnets, she gave each of her 26 students two pipe cleaners, a piece of string, a piece of paper and other items and told them to produce something to reflect the lesson.

“Everyone came up with something different,” Flynn said.

One of her nominators cited Flynn’s ability to make the most of challenging situations.

“She had a boy who loved math but resisted practicing reading (a weaker skill for him),” the woman wrote. “She motivated him by giving him a stopwatch and graph paper so he could measure his time reading and graph his progress.

“She used his strength to address a weakness.”

Teaching was in the cards for Flynn from an early age. Her mother and stepmother were teachers, and she recalled playing “school” regularly as a child. When she moved to Virginia after three years as a teacher in South Carolina, she encouraged her second-grade students there to write her to stay in touch. One girl did so all the way through middle school.

Recently, Flynn received a Facebook friend request from the girl – now in graduate school, studying to be a teacher. Her motivation was Flynn – now a 17-year teaching veteran – who said learning of her own impact was a powerful and humbling realization.

Teaching second-graders gives Flynn many reasons to look forward to arriving at school each day.

“It’s a great age,” she said. “It’s just fun. There are a lot of hands-on things you can do. They’re so enthusiastic, and you see a lot of growth in them during the year.”

Now in her seventh year at Nuckols Farm, Flynn can’t see herself anywhere else.

“I call it my happy place. This school – I’ll be here until they’re ready to send me to teacher heaven.”
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The Senior Film Series at Sandston Library continues from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. with “Wattstax” (R, 102 minutes, 1973). The movie is related to the book “Respect yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion” by Robert Gordon. Coffee and snacks will be provided. For details, call 501-1990 or visit http://www.henricolibrary.org. Full text

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