Meet Superintendent / Thought Leader / Former Terrible Student Michael Hynes

It’s time for us all to become familiar with the work of Michael akhyzafbdn
,  superintendent of  the Patchogue-Medford School District on Long Island and passionate promoter of PEAS: the physical, emotional, academic and social growth of kids, not just their test scores.

Hynes put his district where his mouth is, doubling recess. Kids at his schools get 40 minutes for lunch AND 40 minutes of recess — “The one block of time when they can actually make decisions for themselves.” And wouldn’t you know it — the problems at Hynes’ schools went DOWN, even as attendance went UP, with more free time.


Here is Hynes discussing his initiatives and philosophy, including his core idea that kids are so scheduled and supervised that they need some free time to learn how to get along with others, and “to think things through and think for themselves.”


And here’s another wonderful Hynes video where he talks about how he grew to hate school in his middle and high school years, and how he is so grateful he had ONE THING that kept him from dropping out.

Teachers, principals, superintendents: If you would like to hear about some free play/childhood independence initiatives Free-Range Kids is developing  in conjunction with Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn, please drop me a line at! – L


School Superintendent Michael Hynes believes more recess = kids more ready to learn, inside and outside the classroom.


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7 Responses to Meet Superintendent / Thought Leader / Former Terrible Student Michael Hynes

  1. jimc5499 August 15, 2017 at 11:22 am #

    I had a Sixth Grade teacher who told us if we didn’t mess around between subjects, Lunch and restroom breaks there would be enough time for an extra recess period. We didn’t and sure enough there was. I wonder how much time there would be if we just went back to the basics. You know. Reading, Writing, Math and Science.

  2. Shawn D. August 15, 2017 at 12:22 pm #

    Awesome — thanks for sharing this! It’s so great to see this story.

  3. Dienne August 15, 2017 at 12:24 pm #

    jimc5499 – And students know that if they don’t mess around between periods, lunch and restroom breaks, that extra time is going to be spent on more academic seat time. They’re not dumb.

    Incidentally, you haven’t been in a school lately, have you? “The basics” are pretty much all that are getting focused on because that’s all that gets tested. Long blocks of reading, long blocks of math. If they’re lucky, they might get science and/or social studies. But art, music, PE, foreign language or other languages? Fugeddaboutit.

  4. Theresa Hall August 15, 2017 at 12:26 pm #

    Maybe he can make the dress code no butts no breasts no undergarments like bras and panties and boxers. They be adults soon enough having uniforms and suits. Plus if we want them to be adults we need to treat them like it. I will never think dragging a girl out of class just to measure their shorts or making them wear special clothes that end up telling everyone that the kid violated the dress code. Do we want girls who have the brains of a president who can’t afford to be a dummy or we just want to make them sex symbols. So a kid wants to look like some sports player is it really such a big deal?.

  5. Rae Pica August 15, 2017 at 12:42 pm #

    Lenore, I’m beginning to think we’re twins who were separated at birth! We definitely share a passion for the same topics.

    God bless this man! If only there were many, many more like him in American education.

    Here’s a piece I wrote for Huff Post, called “Reading, Writing, ‘Rithmetic…and Recess.” It oulines 7 contradictions to the belief that recess is frivolous:

  6. Jennifer Carpenter August 15, 2017 at 6:25 pm #

    Dr. Hynes is truly a hero for us on Long Island. With open arms he warmly welcomes other districts to see how beautifully this approach is working. He deeply cares for the students, families, teachers, support staff and administrators not only in his district but everywhere. Dr. Hynes is not just a teacher of students- he is a teacher of LIFE!

  7. SanityAnyone? August 16, 2017 at 11:42 am #

    I’m going to share these with our principal. They already do a phenomenal job with EAS but P (recess) is cancelled all too frequently for mild weather conditions.