Shen principal retiring after four decades as an educator

(PATRICK DODSON / GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER)  Shen Principal Donald Flynt will retire from the district at the end of June.(PATRICK DODSON / GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER) Shen Principal Donald Flynt will retire from the district at the end of June.

By Kassie Parisi

Gazette Reporter

CLIFTON PARK — After more than a decade in the position, Shenendehowa High School Principal Don Flynt will retire in June.

Flynt, who grew up in the Town of Colonie, has played many different roles for different districts throughout his tenure as an educator. He was a social studies teacher for more than 15 years, a baseball coach at both the University of Tampa and Shaker High School, and a superintendent at the Stillwater Central School District. He has been the principal at Shenendehowa High School since February of 2007.

Flynt said his dive into the world of education was inspired by his former high school social studies teacher and baseball coach. Though his coaching days are now behind him, Flynt took on an entirely different challenge in 2007 when he switched from Stillwater, a smaller district, to Shenendehowa, which currently has a total of almost 10,000 students.

“It was pretty daunting when I first got here,” Flynt admitted. He recalled his first day on the job, and his concern over whether or not he would be able to get his arms around the massive high school, even though he had a bit of a disjointed start with a few snow days immediately after his first day. But, he said, with the help of a loyal faculty and staff, he was able to adjust.

“I was surrounded by lots of good administrative teammates,” he said.

For Flynt, one of the things that will forever stand out to him from his tenure at Shenendehowa is the way in which the community came together following the deaths of high school students Deanna Rivers and Chris Stewart at the hands of an impaired driver on the Northway in 2012.

“That was a surreal experience,” Flynt said, recalling the massive outpouring of grief over the deaths of the two students, who he described as very popular and highly respected. The thing that sticks in his mind though, more so than the tragedy, is the speed at which the entire community, including rival schools, came together to form a support system. He noted that in particular, the families of Rivers and Stewarts were concerned about the district.

“It really spoke volumes of the Clifton Park Halfmoon community,” he said.

Flynt is preparing to leave, but he’s not planning on coasting through his last few months as principal. He’s focused on completing the district’s goals for this year, and said that he’s probably going to stay local for a while, since his wife will still be working.

Flynt said that while he’s ready to retire from his current position, he very much plans on continuing to be productive and might as well continue to work hard during his last few months, after almost 40 years as an educator.

“I’m not checking out,” Flynt said. He thanked Shenendehowa, saying that they have been, and continue to be, very welcoming.

His last day on the job will be June 30, 2017.