Alumni Spotlight Peter Flynn

Peter F. Flynn, DCC class of 1960 and former President of the Student Council, has been selected the 2012 Illinois Superintendent of the Year by the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA).

“I felt very honored just to be nominated for this recognition and I am overwhelmed to be the committee’s selection,” Flynn said. “I am also grateful to all those who supported my nomination and, most importantly, to all the people with whom I have worked over the past twelve years, especially the members of the Freeport Board of Education for their leadership and support.”

Flynn was named superintendent of Freeport schools in 2000, bringing with him 21 years of superintendent experience and a proven track record of successful leadership at school districts in Pennsylvania, Iowa and Kentucky. His ability to provide purpose, direction and motivation fundamentally changed the path of the Freeport School District.

“Peter Flynn arrived during a critical time in our district 12 years ago - a time when equity issues were coming to a head, both within the district and the larger community,” said Board President Gary Maxey. “One of Peter’s first important actions, alongside the Board of Education, was the crafting of a Memorandum of Understanding agreement between the primary group calling for change, our school district, and the teachers union.

“The partnership Peter established brought about significant operational improvements, and has flourished over the years. It has led to a more equitable treatment of minority students and a narrowing of the achievement gap. Furthermore, he created and sustains an atmosphere in which diversity is both respected and appreciated.”

Flynn has led the Freeport School District to focus on the whole student. During his 12 years as superintendent, he and his team have consistently encouraged and elicited student success outside of the classroom. Nowhere is that more evident than in the district’s commitment to the arts. Freeport High School has the distinction of being named a Grammy Signature School finalist for 12 consecutive years, making it one of the country’s top music programs. An annual World Arts Festival and the “Showtime” musical variety program, both attended by thousands, have made the Freeport School District synonymous with student artistic achievement.

Brought about by his own personal commitment to excellence and service, Flynn has taken Freeport School District to the forefront of community leadership. He continues to learn and improve, and encourages his staff to do the same. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) selected Flynn as one of “Those who Excel” in 2008, receiving the highest honor given to superintendents by ISBE when he was recognized with an Award of Excellence.

“We were impressed.” said Ann Muraro-Lacopo, who is the state coordinator for the “Those who Excel” program. “It’s obvious how much he has affected his colleagues, teachers and students. He has developed a strong leadership team through his commitment to collaboration, and he has helped his administrators to set high standards and clear expectation for students.”

Muraro-Lacopo said that she was particularly impressed by the fact that Flynn personally mentors a student in the school district.

“Now, that’s unusual. That’s not something we see every day,” she said. “I was personally moved. That kind of personal relationship can transform the life of a child.”

Flynn’s sphere of influence goes beyond district boundaries. His advocacy for excellence in education has prompted leadership roles at the regional, state and national level. He served five years as a board member of IASA and was an active member of the Urban Superintendents Association of America, including a term as its president. Peter is currently serving his second term as President of the Century Club, a national superintendents’ honorary. Now, as the 2012 Illinois Superintendent of the Year, he is poised to continue his life’s work in public education - to ensure as he often says, “that more students learn, and students learn more.”

“I’m really so privileged to work in this district. The board is wonderful and the staff is so professionally dedicated - just an amazing staff,” said Flynn adding that throughout his 30 years as a superintendent he had never accomplished anything of real significance by himself. “Everything I’ve ever done in my professional life that really mattered I did as part of a team, with other people to support, inspire and sometimes lead me.”