Flannery Set To Retire
From an outsider’s perspective, the concept of “tough love” can be hard to grasp. While there may be no greater beast at Packer than the study of Latin, many students and faculty alike find the presence of Tim Flannery fundamental for upholding our core values of thinking deeply, speaking confidently, and acting with purpose and heart. After 24 years, it is time to say goodbye.
“Packer has been an incredibly nurturing home,” said Mr. Flannery. “We are this busy hive, but the home that Packer has provided is a place where there is an abundance of interests, heart, and diversity. Packer has meant a place for me to grow up and learn.”
A scholar at heart, Mr. Flannery was awarded to the Frank L. Babbott Chair of Literature and the Arts at the end of the 2004-2005 school year. He has been the only foreign language teacher to receive such an honor.
“What many people don’t know about me is that I am extremely shy,” said Mr. Flannery. “Many days that I came into Packer, I would pass through the beautiful chapel with the Tiffany windows and Harriet Packer’s Roman style bust and turn to her for words of wisdom before my Babbott lectures.”
While Mr. Flannery may describe himself as shy, his teaching style speaks for itself.
“I know that I am a demanding teacher. I have always been. My discipline can be no other way, but I aim to be only as challenging as the discipline itself,” said Mr. Flannery. “Latin is a different beast. Most languages have two noun forms that can be used as a subject or a direct object. But imagine a noun with two forms, and five different ways it can be used. Students come by with an appreciation for what they get for the work that they put in. The payback when you get to the literature is worth it. I do not need to preach about it. Reading something that is 2,000 years old in its original form is an experience that you cannot match. I am just blessed with students that do not just walk away angry about Latin or hate my guts.”
A co-leader of the Sacred Spaces Symposium course, physical education teacher George Boutis shared his experience of working with Mr. Flannery.
“I love working with Mr. Flannery because he is real, authentic, hard working, non-judgmental, and has a great sense of humor,” said Mr. Boutis. “[Mr. Flannery] is passionate about spirituality, so we share that passion in our Sacred Spaces Symposium course. He is aware of the importance of the inner life of a teacher, and I rarely find that with my colleagues. Packer will be missing a member of our community next year who has laid the the groundwork for the best of that our school has to offer.”
While the classroom environment is one side to teaching at Packer, the vibrant community atmosphere is something equally as challenging to duplicate in retirement.
“I will miss having ongoing relationships with high school students,” said Mr. Flannery. “Last week I was going to the theater, and saw a whole bunch of teenage boys walk into the restaurant that I was eating at before the show. They were with two teachers and immediately I wondered, when will I ever have the chance to be with a group like that again.”
Students alike emphasized the value that they place on their relationships with Mr. Flannery.
“No one better encapsulates all that it means to be a teacher than Mr. Flannery,” said Jordan Tayeh (‘17). “He has played countless roles, not least of which was friend. His students truly love him.”
Dino Mastropietro (‘17) added, “There’s some energy which emanates from Mr. Flannery, which may have to do with the rigors of his class, or the respect he commands, or how much he cares about each and every one of us, but every time I walk into his class, my own will to succeed comes from an even stronger desire to make him proud.”
The process of leaving Packer is one that Mr. Flannery hopes to take in stride with the remainder of the school year.
“I find goodbye to be hardest thing to say and thank you the easiest,” said Mr. Flannery. “I have so many things to be thankful for in my life and in this place. I tend to vanish mysteriously after graduation because I find it tough not to be emotional. It is going to be a long goodbye so I want to look for a path that will allow me to proceed with as much grace as I can muster.”
Mr. Flannery continued to say, “One thing I won’t miss is comment writing!”