SILVER SPRING, Md.– An English teacher at Montgomery Blair High School has been nominated for Living Classrooms’ Rising Star award, which recognizes outstanding young leaders for their achievements and philanthropic efforts.
Blair’s Peter Lynch has fundraised $3,000 for Living Classrooms, a nonprofit whose mission is to disrupt the cycle of poverty by inspiring children, youth and adults to achieve their potential through hands-on education, workforce development, health and wellness, and violence prevention programming.
Lynch aims to connect Blair with Living Classrooms’ work on cleaning up the Anacostia Watershed, “it would be a great opportunity for Blair kids to knock off some community service hours but also if anybody is super interested in environmental studies, they have a lot of opportunities to get their hands dirty and really grow in that sort of study and life.”
But Living Classrooms’ isn’t the extent of Lynch’s efforts in philanthropy. From the annual clothing drive for winter jackets at Blair to his time spent teaching in the South Bronx, Lynch’s passion for making the world a better place has always been entwined with his role as (and love for being) a teacher.
“The most rewarding time that I had post college was teaching,” said Lynch, who dabbled in other fields, like political organizing, before settling on his current career.
Lynch was a field organizer for Barack Obama’s 2011 campaign, where he helped to recruit volunteers.
“There’s so much learning that went on there,” Lynch says. “I think one of the more interesting things was just an ability to talk to anybody and everybody without any sort of bashfulness.”
This skill has helped him in the classroom, where students have bonded with the six-foot-four redhead (his preferred celebrity ginger is Prince Harry, for the record).
“It’s easy to see that he loves his job by the effort he puts into getting to know his students and making his class interesting and engaging,” said Nora Bodner, a previous student of Lynch’s. “Mr. Lynch is an amazing teacher.”
Originally from Washington D.C., Lynch attended Lynchburg College in Virginia for his bachelor’s degree. After graduating, he got a job teaching at Nativity Prep, an all-boys middle school for low income families in New Bedford, Massachusettsis.
“I thought after college I was just going to teach there for a year or two like all teachers do at that school and then move on,” recalls Lynch. “And as I was there, I just really loved it. My eyes were sort of opened to the landscape of education inequity in the country. Also it was such a strong community. The people there are just phenomenal and really tight knit, so I was sort of engrossed in the community as I was teaching at that school.”
After attending New York University to get his master’s degree in Education, Lynch returned to D.C where he got a job teaching, eventually finding his way to Montgomery County.
When Lynch applied to teach in Montgomery County, he intended to teach history but there were no openings. They did, however, have a spot for English at Blair High School.
Danny Cole, English teacher and varsity football assistant head coach at Blair High School, said, “[Lynch’s] first year here I believe he “floated” into four different rooms; this means he didn’t have one classroom but rather taught in multiple locations.”
“He also taught three different courses, which is a lot of work for anybody but especially a teacher new to MCPS at the time. And yet he did it all without a complaint but rather with a smile on his face,” added Cole.
“I went with it and I’ve never looked back,” said Lynch. “I actually like teaching it a lot more than history. Sometimes dates and whatever happened in history doesn’t necessarily grab people.”
But, says Lynch, “a story always will.”