To his students, Michael B. Flynn is a one-man carnival who uses funny voices and camcorders to bring life to spelling and subtraction. To his peers, he is a blazing young teacher with a zeal for reforming the way educators teach math.
These two sides, colleagues say, propelled the 32-year-old teacher at Norris Elementary School in Southampton to the State House in Boston yesterday, where he was honored as the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year.
“He’s not somebody who once a year hits a home run; he’s a guy who has an incredible batting average,” said Norris principal William E. Collins.
In his 10 years on the job, Flynn has transformed his second-grade classroom into a hub of creativity, where students have raised salmon to learn about fish, produced short movies as they studied Antarctica, and designed rockets to gain an understanding of basic physics.
Flynn, a father of four, said that hands-on projects allow for learning experiences that students do not forget.
“If I can do it in a way that will create those lasting memories, that’s how I do it,” said Flynn, who says he sometimes stays up until 3 a.m. editing his students’ films.
For several weeks each year, Flynn speaks to teachers across the country about teaching math in new ways.
He also is active in the community as a member of the School Committee.
“He connects well with people,” said Cheryl Salomao, a first-grade teacher at Norris. “Whatever his passion is, he excels at it.”
One of his second-graders, Jacqueline Ashley, 8, said Flynn makes students feel courageous about learning.
“He’s really nice, and we feel like we have a lucky teacher,” she said.
“We wish he was a third-grade teacher so we could have him for another year.”