Flynn Harne started working full time as main office staff at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women right before the pandemic started in March 2020. During that time, a big part of his job entailed supporting staff and students with technology rollouts and building logistics.
What was it like to start your job in the main office right as the pandemic was beginning? How did you manage to weather all the constant changes and uncertainty without having had much time to get acclimated to the job?
My hire date was twelve days before the first wave of shutdowns began for Baltimore City Schools. It was a challenging introductory period – not long after I learned the basics of the position, the school’s logistics team changed focus to technology distribution for the 400+ students who attend our school! We were able to complete that particular project in a matter of days, and I owe our success to the phenomenal logistics team I worked alongside. Learning the systems and procedures for BCPS in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic is hard enough; the most challenging aspect of my start date was introduction to our school’s community – learning the nuances of Zoom meeting etiquette took some time getting used to. In spite of all the new technology, new vocabulary, and the unpredictable pandemic news cycle, I found it hard to get discouraged. I thrive on communication, learning, and by helping others in tangible ways. Even while working virtually for the end of the 19-20 school year, I had chances to do these things with students and staff. A majority of the 20-21 school year was spent doing that as well! Now, as we look to reopening school, I’m excited to meet the students and staff I’ve spent the past 17 months getting to know from behind a screen.
What did you do before your current position?
Before I worked for BCPS, I had a slew of jobs: I was the Delivery/Warehouse Manager for Baltimore-based food company HEX Ferments. I also worked part time in the Good Harvest offices, a Baltimore-based nonprofit combating food insecurity. I also gave (and still give) cooking lessons at the Baltimore Chef Shop in Hampden.
What motivated you to join BTU? What does being a union member mean to you?
I joined the BTU as soon as I was officially onboarded. I’ve worked many jobs that had no standards for training, working conditions, or wages, and this led to a poorer quality of life for both myself and my coworkers. I’m proud to be a union member, although I do wish PSRPs had more opportunities to interact. I am the only PSRP assigned to my building, and I would relish the chance to connect with my counterparts in a capacity beyond my work responsibilities.
What challenges do you anticipate during this new school year? How do you plan to meet those challenges?
I feel that there will be several challenges this year, the largest among them being the ongoing pandemic. I approach my job with a healthy dose of optimism, but there is no hiding my fears that in the coming school year we will face similar, if not identical or even magnified, versions of the problems we faced last year. With the added difficulty of returning in person this school year, I hope that we can as a community keep our health and safety as the highest priority.
What do you do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I am a teaching chef and a performing artist – this winter I will be making my directorial debut in the Baltimore arts community. Scale model assembly & painting is another favorite of mine, especially sci-fi themed pieces. I also have an elderly chihuahua named Django who is to thank for maintaining my sanity during the pandemic.