By: Conrad Clemens
Following 42 trips to Spain, 32 years teaching Spanish, 22 years in Baltimore, and a one-year hiatus, Ms. Joan Hurley is ready to teach at Gilman. Born in Susquehanna, PA, Ms. Hurley went to East Stroudsburg University. After graduating with a double major in Spanish and Secondary Education, she got her Masters in Spanish at Middlebury College in Spain. Ms. Hurley began her teaching career by moving to Connecticut to teach at the boarding school Choate Rosemary Hall. She then established herself in Baltimore teaching at St. Paul’s School for 11 years, and then at Garrison Forest School for 10 years. Going from a coeducational boarding school, to an all-boys day school, to an all-girls boarding and day school has given Ms.Hurley perspective on all different types of learning environments. Regardless, Ms. Hurley ob- served, “Kids are kids, I absolutely adore teaching, and I love Spanish, so going back to all boys will be nothing new.”
The first time Ms. Hurley went to Spain was during her junior year abroad in college when she went to a small town two hours north of Madrid called Valladolid, courtesy of a program from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Thirty-two of her 42 trips to Spain were organized for students, in a town called Gijón. She said that she loves the trip so much that she never wants it to change: “I’ve always gone to the same town, the same school, the same people, and no I don’t need change.” Travel is one of her favorite hobbies, as she has been to Honduras and Puerto Rico twice, Guatemala, and all around Europe. She also loves photography and used to have an amateur business where she did shows at 15 different venues in Baltimore.
During the 1999-2000 school year, Ms. Hurley won a competitive Fulbright teacher exchange to Spain where she exchanged her house, her job, and her car, and got to travel all over Spain, Italy, France, and England. She loves teaching Spanish, as she views class time as “not ‘Spanish class’” per se, but rather a space where students come and, not have to, but rather get to speak in Spanish for 70 minutes.” Her former students have told her that she is genuine and passionate as a teacher. Ms. Hurley believes, how- ever, that her class is “still a two way street.” In class, she “strives to provide an atmosphere of shared patience, wisdom, generosity, optimism and encouragement.” She begins with “the belief that everyone can learn to speak a sec- ond language, and work from there.” Ms. Hurley will be teaching four Spanish classes: Spanish 2, two sections of Spanish 4, and Spanish 5 Civilization. She hopes to return to Spain soon, as she has not been in two years, which is the longest amount of time she has not been to Spain. We wish Ms. Hurley well in her first year back to teaching.