Staff Tribute: Joseph Hurley

Social Studies Teacher

 “Mr. Hurley came to teaching relatively late in life after working as a taxi driver and bicycle messenger. He was so excited about transitioning to the teaching profession. He really loved the process of getting to know the children and his colleagues, and he was passionate about the work. Students and families really took to him and especially loved his jokes.” – Novella Bailey, Principal of M.S. 250 West Side Collaborative Middle School.

Although Joseph Hurley was only in his first year of teaching when he passed away in April, he made a profound impact on the West Side Collaborative community. A digital bulletin board created by the school community attests to that legacy, filled with deeply moving tributes to Mr. Hurley from students, parents, and colleagues.

Parent Jennifer Murphy wrote: “I feel so strongly in saying Mr. Hurley was an exceptional teacher. He always knew how to get my daughter to speak and share her thoughts, or sometimes simply encourage her to read aloud. She told me he was her favorite teacher ever, and that she never has to compromise who she is for anyone or anything else. I’ve seen big differences in my daughter since she started at West Side Collaborative and I think Mr. Hurley played a big role in her changes.”

Teaching colleague Natasha Knight, who shared a classroom with Mr. Hurley, added: “He was a great roommate and liked a clean, organized room like me. We got along great and had many informative and fun conversations daily. He had a lot of knowledge about the Bronx from his cab driving days and would tell me really cool information that left me saying, ‘Wow! I didn’t know that!’ Mr. Hurley was good man and enjoyed what he did even on the hard days. He really wanted to make a difference in the lives of his students, and he I think he did what he set out to do.”

Another teaching colleague, Teresa Delaney, wrote: “Joe Hurley was family. He was no just a co-worker. He was someone who had deep roots in our community and touched all of our lives whether he taught you or worked with you. In a short time, he developed very close relationships with many of us. I could relate to him on so many levels. Like me, he was a career changer who loved history, education, the arts, and obscure esoterica. It hurts that he is no longer with us.”

Eighth grade teacher Ian Weissman adds: “Mr. Hurley was not only a great co-worker, but a close friend. From the time he began student teaching with us at West Side, he cared about every single student on a personal level. He saw the best in everyone and had big ideas for what each student could accomplish. I will never forget his witty sense of humor and ability to make light of any situation. I will also miss our daily political discussion each morning and how he forced me to stay on top of the news to hold my own with his well-thought-out opinions. He will always be a big part of our West Side family and I will miss him dearly.”

In the short time his path joined with that of the West Side Collaborative community, Mr. Hurley demonstrated how much of a difference a genuine passion for teaching can make in the lives of students and colleagues.