Chuck Flamini held about every job in education in Springfield District 186 one could possibly have: teacher, coach, union president, principal, athletic director, central office administrator, assistant superintendent and board member. Ask anyone about his main philosophy while serving in any of these roles, and the comment always is, "Chuck had teachers in his heart." Gary Sullivan, former administrator and close friend, says, "Chuck owed his success to his teachers and truly believed teachers were key to everything." Former superintendent Bob Hill echoes that. "No matter what role Chuck had, for the rest of his life he viewed himself as the supporter of teachers."
People who knew Chuck smile when thinking of his jokes, feisty spirit and often colorful language. Sullivan says, "What you saw is what you got; he would tell you what he thought." Everybody loved him.
It was a teacher who encouraged Chuck to earn his teaching degree, which he did at Eastern Illinois University in 1968. He returned to Springfield and was hired as a physical education elementary teacher. Throughout his career, he coached track, eighth grade and high school basketball and high school track.
Since he was always proud of his north-end roots, he jumped at the opportunity in 1980 to teach at Lanphier High School, his alma mater. By then he had witnessed the needs of teachers, which led him to the role of Springfield Education Association president from 1983-1986.
Steve Rambach, who taught with Chuck at Lanphier, praises him for his teaching and his leadership in SEA. "He taught me the role of political action and the way to fight for the rights of teachers. We became fast friends."
Union activist Sue Davies-Yoggerst remembers Chuck's credo, "He always said the role of the SEA president was to love teachers, and the role of teachers was to love kids."
He had fun, entertained others easily and built a spirit of enthusiasm all around him. He would often laugh at himself. Being with Chuck meant having a good time.
Chuck was later recruited into administration and served in several capacities, first as principal at Lanphier for six years in the 1990s, then moving to the central office as the assistant superintendent in curriculum and instruction. In 1999, he took on a dual role as the assistant superintendent for secondary schools as well as the principal at Springfield High School. In every role he brought fresh ideas.
Sheri Pohlman, former administrator at Springfield High School, says, "I always valued his expertise and insight. He took over at SHS after a few difficult years, and within a short time, he rectified inequities. He knew how to address an issue, and he would be straightforward and let people know when they were not doing their jobs but wouldn't make a mountain out of a molehill when there were bigger fish to fry."
In addition to Chuck's support of teachers, everyone points to his passion for District 186. He was constantly coming up with new approaches to improve and strengthen the district. Sullivan says, "He was an idea person and was always thinking ahead." Chuck certainly encountered difficult situations, and the image of him pacing up and down in his office, deep in thought, often talking to no one in particular, is one many who knew him will remember.
Hill also calls Chuck a true advocate for students. "He would talk to kids in a way that they opened up about themselves without him prying. Kids would sit and listen to him and hear his advice. His advice was worth listening to."
After retiring in 2002, he still focused on education. He taught a course on "Dealing with Diversity" at UIS, he helped superintendents navigate the role of collective bargaining, he served as a director of Ursuline Academy and curriculum coordinator for Springfield College in Illinois, helping to establish an elementary education bachelor's degree program.
Then, he put his political action to the test and ran for District 186 School Board. He won, and served from 2013-2018, part of the time as the board president. In making decisions, he maintained his advocacy for teachers and for the district.
Chuck was respected and loved by all. He will be missed.
Cinda Ackerman Klickna has fond memories of Chuck Flamini through their work in SEA, including her own time as SEA president.