Board member Hurley named to '20 Under 40'
General Brown Central School District Board of Education member Natalie Hurley has been named to the 2020 Class of the NNY Business 20 Under 40.
This is the 10th year of the awards, which annually honor 20 of the “North Country’s most talented up-and-coming young leaders between the ages of 28 to 39.” NNY Business describes honorees as those “who are recognized by their peers, employers, family members and communities as individuals who strive each day to obtain success professionally and personally, while giving back to those in need.”
Hurley, who teaches math at Indian River High School, said she was “completely shocked” when she was notified of the honor. “Being a teacher, you’re not always recognized for the work you do, so it felt good to be recognized for going above and beyond,” she said.
Hurley, 35, is in her fourth year on the General Brown CSD School Board, serving her second term. In addition, she serves on the Indian River Educational Association and the Jefferson Lewis School Boards Association. She is also a New York State Master Teacher Program Fellow and the county chair for the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New York.
“Natalie Hurley is a fierce advocate for students and the General Brown community. Her leadership on the Jefferson Lewis School Boards Association exemplifies her passion for supporting quality public education,” GBCSD Superintendent Barbara Case said. “She is a true collaborator, and we are fortunate to have such a professional serve as a role model to our students and employees.”
Hurley said she chose to run for the school board as a way to give back to the school community in which she grew up. She graduated from General Brown Junior-Senior High School, and her father worked for the district for decades. She thought her experience as a teacher would be a valuable addition to the board.
Hurley said she is especially proud of the fact that during her tenure on the board, the school district reconfigured its buildings to be grade centered, something that had been talked about for many years, but never completed. The change was put in place in the 2019-20 school year. Hurley said the initiative grew out of the work of the Strategic Action Plan Committee on which she served. She said the board and administrators focused on the benefits to students, which include being with the same group of students through graduation and collaboration among grade-level teachers to better support students.
“I can look back and say that is something I worked on and saw all the way to its implementation,” she said, reflecting on the work done to bolster community support over about a year’s time.
Hurley also points to serving as the board representative in teacher contract negotiations as an area of success. “We were able to satisfy a lot of teachers’ requests, and I felt like we were able to do that without burdening taxpayers,” she said.
Hurley, who is a third-generation teacher, said her passion for supporting education likely stems from growing up in a household that talked about and valued public education. Teaching allows her to combine her two loves of math and working with adolescents.
“There are definitely bad days, but I find it so rewarding to watch students grow, learn, make connections and turn into civic-minded, hardworking members of society as a result of what roles teachers, administrators and school board members play in their lives,” she said.
Hurley said she believes anything worth doing is worth doing well. “We only get one shot at life, so you need to put your best foot forward and do the best job you can at all times,” she said.