Mary Ann Flynn, a long-time Fairfax County Public School teacher and community leader, died last week at the age of 85.
Flynn was an educator at Hunters Woods, Dogwood, and Terraset elementary schools for more than two decades, primarily teaching first grade. She was among the first teachers at Dogwood and Terraset, when that school first opened in 1977, her family says.
“She used to say she loved teaching first grade because she could still do the math,” daughter Merri Flynn told Reston Now. “Really, it was because…it was the year she got to see such huge improvement because it was the year that most children learned to read. And she really loved being able to help them learn to read.”
She was beloved as a teacher. Her son Christopher attended Terraset while his mother taught there and has received notes with fond remembrances from former students all week.
“You can’t get away with a whole lot [at school] when your mom’s down the hall,” Christopher said. “A lot of people I went to school with remember her as a teacher.”
The family says “dozens of folks” have commented on a post they made on Facebook about Flynn, who was loved by family and pupils because of her compassion, generosity, thoughtfulness, and listening skills.
“I think people felt comfortable with her because she was quiet and an excellent listener,” Merri said. “She was always interested in what people were saying about their lives and she would remember details.”
She also loved sharing and seeing photos of loved ones.
“She was one of those rare people who really loved seeing pictures of other people’s family, especially babies and children,” Merri said with a laugh.
After spending time in San Francisco, D.C., and Norfolk, Flynn and her husband Tom, a Naval officer, settled in Reston in 1970. It became their home for the next several decades.
Even after Flynn retired as a public school teacher in 1992, the couple remained very active in the Reston community. The Flynns helped out at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, running its Angel Christmas and Birthday Club. Both of these programs worked through the local nonprofit Cornerstones to provide gifts to children.
The couple was honored by the Virginia General Assembly in 2003 for their community service efforts.
Flynn also assisted with weddings at the church, sometimes walking up and down the aisles.
“She wanted to make sure no one was chewing gum,” Merri Flynn said.
As a mother and grandmother, she was always present.
“She had a big smile whenever anyone she loved entered the room,” Thomas Flynn, Mary Ann’s grandson, said. “She just made you feel very special whenever you were talking to her. There was a kind of beam shining on you because everything was just about you.”
Flynn’s commitment to education went beyond her career. She helped to set up a library at Falcons Landing, a military retirement community in Potomac Falls that she and her husband moved into in 2014.
“She was a lifelong educator, but she did it in a really gentle way,” Merri said. “She never talked down to someone or made them feel less than.”
According to those who knew her, Flynn’s defining quality was her dedication to being an advocate for her family and students.
“She was your champion,” Merri said. “She always had your back.”
Mary Ann Flynn is survived by her husband Tom, three children, and two grandsons, Andrew and Thomas. Her death was preceded by that of her parents and a son, Thomas Edward Flynn IV.
The visitation and funeral mass will be held tomorrow (Aug. 31) at St. John Neumann Catholic Church at 11900 Lawyers Road, starting at 10 a.m.
The burial will take place at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery, where Flynn will join her son Thomas.
Jo-Ann Duggan, the Director of Outreach at St. John Neumann Parish, knows there are people struggling to keep a roof over their heads.
“Yesterday, I was speaking to someone who was trying to find housing for a friend of hers who has three children and earns $23,000 a year,” Duggan said Wednesday. “She works in retail. She’s a single mother.”
St. John Neumann Parish (11900 Lawyers Road) will play host Thursday to a meeting with the Housing Matters program, opening the conversation about the need for affordable housing in Fairfax County.
The goals of the meeting, which will take place from 7-8:45 p.m. at the parish’s auditorium, include helping residents understand how housing can affect other facets of a community. Other related topics will include a discussion of how much affordable housing is needed for an economically sustainable Fairfax County.
Duggan is hopeful that the Housing Matters program will receive lots of community input to help alleviate the housing struggles of many residents. Duggan first heard of the program from John Horejsi, who works for Social Action Linking Together, a legislative advocacy group. Horejsi attended a Housing Matters program and thought it would be worthwhile to bring to the church.
“Housing Matters is all about safe and affordable housing so that communities can thrive,” Horejsi said. “When you achieve that — when you have safe and affordable housing — the families do better, there’s more upward economic mobility, the kids do better in school. We all benefit.”
Horejsi explained that when there is affordable housing, more businesses are attracted to the area due to its stable workforce. He said that currently, the average rent in Fairfax County is $1,700-$1,800 a month, while half of the jobs in the area reap less than $50,000 a year. Rents are increasing while salaries are not. Horejsi explained that as rent gets more expensive, workers start to move away.
“If the workers in our community whom we need can’t afford to live here, then they’re just going to clog up all the roads and that’s going to create more air pollution,” said Horejsi. “Doing nothing [for affordable housing] is going to cost a lot more in the long run.”
Thursday’s meeting will feature a presentation from Vin Rogers, the division director for the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development. After Rogers speaks, facilitators will help lead conversations among groups of attendees. Feedback and input will be encouraged during these group discussions.
“It’s going to be a dialogue first of all,” Horejsi said.
Duggan said she anticipates 50-100 people to turn up at the meeting. Anyone interested in the meeting is encouraged to fill out a survey about housing in the area.
Chart via Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development
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Former Phys-Ed Teacher Gets Principal Job — Nick Napolitano, who was a physical-education teacher at Aldrin Elementary School from 2011-2014, has been named the principal of W.C. Taylor Middle School in Warrenton. [Fauquier Now]
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Farmers Market, Church Have Strong Partnership — Smart Markets operates out of the parking lot at St. John Neumann Catholic Community (11900 Lawyers Road) from 3-7 p.m. each Wednesday. [Arlington Catholic Herald]
Photo courtesy Radhika Murari/RSTA
The potential for a nursery school at St. John Neumann Church looks a lot more likely.
On May 17, the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals approved a special permit amendment that will allow the addition of the nursery school. Located at 11900 Lawyers Road, the projected nursery and pre-school would be one of several in the Reston area.
The Rev. Joseph T. Brennan made the official announcement in the church bulletin last week.
“I want to share an update on the potential of a preschool at St. John Neumann. On Wednesday, May 17, 2017 the Board of Zoning Appeals for the County of Fairfax, Virginia approved the proposal to permit the addition of a nursery school. This is a significant step towards the possibility of a pre-school opening in the Fall of 2018. Please stay tuned as we continue to work out the next steps and examine the feasibility of this endeavor.”
A parish survey that was conducted last year indicated an interest in pursuing the school.
St. John Neumann Church (11900 Lawyers Road) is looking toward the prospect of adding a nursery school to its facility as early as 2018.
According to information printed in a recent church bulletin, the preschool would be state-licensed and would be operated under the direction of the Office of Catholic Schools of the Arlington Diocese.
A parish survey that was conducted last year indicated an interest in pursuing the school, according to the Feb. 12 bulletin.
“We are working with the diocesan-appointed attorney and have submitted a Proposed Special Permit Amendment Application to the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning. It is important to emphasize that we are in the early stages and that barring any roadblocks, the soonest the preschool would open is Fall of 2018.”
According to Reston Association’s Land Development Tracker, the special permit amendment application was filed with the county Jan. 27, and it is being reviewed for quality control before acceptance.
Photo courtesy St. John Neumann Catholic Community