After 22 years at Longfellow Middle School, Principal Vincent Lynch, 58, is saying goodbye. While suffering with Labile Hypertension, he’s retiring early so he can do some traveling in the U.S. before moving to Thailand on a retirement Visa.
"I visited Thailand in 1986, and over the years I would go back very often. Quite a few years ago, I became a Buddhist, and I find that people are extremely friendly and quieter. It’s a slower pace of life."
He said the thing he’ll miss most about his job is the students. "Since 1973, I have spent every working day with hundreds of kids. And I'm going to miss that because I love working with kids," said the long-time Falls Church resident who recently moved to Dumfries.
Kayne Miller, the social studies chair, said Lynch is someone the school’s 1,000 students have been able to connect with. "For the students, he’s created a community school where they’re comfortable and they feel safe."
Frank Jenkins, principal of Herndon Middle School calls Lynch "even-keeled, level-headed, and patient" with a good sense of balance. "His school was recognized as one of five middle schools as being the best in the state of Virginia."
Sandie Johnston, in charge of the school's finances, said: "On a personal note, Mr. Lynch has a terrific sense of humor … He’s a good man and a good friend and I’m glad I’ve been able to work with him," she said.
Originally from Palmyra, NY, in Western New York state, Lynch got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in teaching from the State University of New York at Brockport.
He taught in P.G. County for seven years and then moved to Fairfax County after meeting "the most enthusiastic educators I’d ever met" in a class. He moved to Edison High School where he taught earth science. In 1986, he came to Longfellow as the assistant principal for 15 years, then seven as principal.
"I think he’s been an excellent principal for the teachers because he’s provided professional development opportunities and allowed us to be the best teachers we could be," said Miller
Lynch was thrilled to be invited to Richmond to meet the governor this year when Longfellow was listed as being in the top 5 percent of all schools in Virginia for its high SOL scores. "Most of our SOL scores are 93-97 pass rates. But we do have pockets of students who are not achieving at that level," he said. "And we try to focus on how to intervene with the students who are not doing well."
Of Longfellow’s 1,000 students, 35 are African American, 85 are Latino and 150 are Asian.
One of his challenges, he said, was working with some educators who do not like change. "Every teacher has their own teaching style, and every learner has their own learning style. When those two styles can come together, that's great," he said. "But sometimes when they're missing, we need to convince the teacher to try different strategies to connect with some of the students who weren't being connected with."
Working in Fairfax County has been a very positive experience, where principals are really listened to by the School Board. "We have had a series of excellent Superintendents," said Lynch, naming off former titleholders Bud Spillane, Daniel Domenech, Burkholder, and Dr. Dale.
What he’s best known for is the motto: "Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours," which he recites over the morning announcements. Last week, one of his students, upon hearing about his retirement, told him to "Make it a great life, the choice is yours."
And by moving to Thailand, Lynch says: "Thai people have a pretty positive view of America. And it will be fun."