Byrne burning light for freshman

Dean brings love and hope to the freshman campus

Mayah Moore, Contributing Writer

In high school, a dean’s day consists of leading kids in the right direction, helping them open their eyes to improvement and opportunity, and growing connections with people who don’t have a very good support system. Peter Byrne is the dean for McHenry High School Freshman Campus. With luck on his side, he was supplied with a scholarship after making it to state championships during high school. He started his career as a teacher in Waukegan at an at-risk high school. Byrne then came to MCHS in 2018 as the dean we all know today. Byrne has had a passion for teaching and helping kids grow and develop.

A student’s first interaction with their administrators is so important. “Every interaction I have with a student is a building block of how we’re going to go about the future” stated Byrne. Byrne uses that first interaction as a jumping off point. “The first interaction shows them who I am and what I’m about and then we chip away at the attitude and poor choices,” he claimed. Although Byrne loves working with students, his job has changed in many ways including the pandemic.

With the pandemic taking kids out of school for a whole year, Byrne is having a hard time getting the students to the maturity level they should be at. “This year it was the pandemic that has affected students because we have a lot of students who have no empathy right now,” stated Byrne. Finding ways to bring the students together has been hard for Byrne because of the cultural effect that has been put in place over this past year. “They are treating each other very poorly, and I think they just forgot how to do school, how to be human.” claimed Byrne. He takes into consideration the fact that they are still in a 7th grade norm.

Byrne notices that as a cause of the pandemic the recent freshmen have not had the normal 8th grade experience before entering high school.  “They essentially went from seventh graders directly into high school,” specified Byrne. The pandemic caused all of the students to communicate through the screen which makes it fairly easy to say what you want with little consequence.  “I think that social media is terrible for our youth, and very few are mature enough to use it appropriately,” explained Byrne. Even though he has some troubles helping kids in difficult situations he is passionate and driven to help. 

Byrne feels for kids in the school who are going through rough times. “I love working with challenging kids who have problems because I had lots of problems when I was a kid,” Byrne stated. He uses tactics everyday to try to help the kids improve and live in a friendly, safe environment. “I’m able to be myself and break things down to a level where they can understand it and hopefully see the err of their ways and make better choices.” He stated. Byrne also emphasizes how he tries to get kids to treat each other respectfully. He makes sure to ask how things they say would make them feel, what they would do and if they would appreciate being treated that way. 

Byrne loves his job because he is able to help so many kids and watch them grow and develop into their own person. Nothing beats the feeling of being able to help kids realize their worth and show them what a good support system really is. He is always ready to put his best foot forward and do the most that he can. Being a dean isn’t about getting people in trouble and trying to ruin young adults’ lives, it’s about paving a path into your future to help you be the best person you can be and that’s exactly what Byrne intends to do for the entirety of his career.