Recognizing retiring U.P. teachers: Phil Lynch, Escanaba Area Public Schools

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ESCANABA, Mich. (WJMN) – As the school year comes to a close Local 3 is taking the time to recognize teachers across the U.P. who are retiring this school year, like Phil Lynch, a social studies teacher at Escanaba High School.

“Well I started in 1990 and as I say that year, that does sound like a whole other lifetime ago,” said Lynch. “It’s been kind of surreal coming to an end. Obviously I’ve never done this before and I thought retirees felt older.”

After 30 years of teaching at Escanaba Area Public Schools, Lynch is stepping out of this role. Lynch went to college for English and going into teaching with an English degree seemed to fit event though he didn’t end up teaching that subject.

“Wasn’t on my radar screen,” said Lynch. “Needed a job, you need to eat and it’s been awesome like I’ve been saying all year. No regrets but that’s like minimal baseline. It’s been absolutely wonderful it’s been tremendous.”

Lynch says he’s a troll by birth, but a Yooper by choice which is why he’s been in Escanaba all of these years. His wife is from the U.P. too.

Local 3 asked Lynch about some memories from his years of teaching. One that stood out included his head being shaved for a cause and making connections with students into their adulthoods.

“One thing that’s really nice,” said Lynch. “It’s not so much in the classroom moment. Cause I have older kids and they graduate and you stay in touch with them and so many of them have become my colleagues. They’ve gone into teaching and it’s just a deep joy really to maintain contact with them and some of them come back to Escanaba. We’re just super proud of those folks but all of the kids that well they’re adults now that I’ve been able to stay in contact with and become fellow adults with.”

Escanaba Area Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Coby Fletcher spoke on what Lynch means to their district.

“I think Phil is an example of a long-time teacher who I guess the best way to express it is I think Phil worked hard to be better every year and so he was the type of teacher that you would see kids navigate to,” said Fletcher. “Kids would enjoy taking his classes, they liked him not only because he knew a lot but because he is a very interesting person. Very kind-hearted, very level-headed.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic, his last of teaching students face-to-face was cut off short.

“I’ve never retired before so I don’t really know how a normal year is,” said Fletcher. “It’s odd just the whole… all the relationships with kids just ending so kind of up in the air.”

Lynch says now that he is retiring, he’ll still be around the Escanaba area and will focus on being a musician.

“Normally when the school year ramps up then music ramps down and then vice versa,” said Clearly I’m not burnt out or anything but it was time to do something different so I’m heading towards doing more performances. I’m in a blues band, I do my own singer/songwriter stuff.”

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