Teacher's Death Shakes Students, Staff
The surprising death last week of Southern Middle School’s Teacher of the Year has stunned the school and left friends and colleagues puzzled.
Aberdeen police have ruled out foul play in the death of 32-year-old Beth Anne Hurley. Instead, officials suspect a medical issue involving a flu-like illness that kept her out of school all last week could be to blame.
Hurley’s body was found in her Aberdeen home on Dec. 6 by a friend who went to check on her after she did not respond to repeated phone calls.
A school official said that the seventh-grade social studies teacher had not attended school all week due to illness.
“We know that her death was not self-inflicted, not a homicide, and was determined to be by natural causes,” said Aberdeen Police Chief Mike Connor. “Since it was not a criminal act, and apparently has no connection to public safety, we are done with our part of the investigation.”
A more thorough examination from the medical examiner’s office will not be complete for a few weeks.
Southern Middle School Principal Herb Hanson said that the school’s students and staff were distraught on Friday following the announcement of Hurley’s death.
“Last Friday was tough, but the weekend was a little better,” he said. “Then, last night, we had an evening candlelight vigil in memory of Beth, and it got tough again. Still, we had a tremendous turnout from our students, from high school students, and from people out of state. The students set up a slide show in honor of her memory, someone played a guitar while everyone viewed the photos, and although we bought 200 candles for the event, 300 persons attended.”
Hurley was the Southern Middle School Teacher of the year.
“We took a blue ribbon, which was her favorite color, and we put it on top of her ‘Teacher of the Year’ sign,” Hanson said. “The candlelight vigil was a strong testament to her impact and was a moving celebration of her life.”
Hanson commended the school system and the community for helping students and staff during a difficult time.
“Moore County Schools did an excellent job in supplying extra counselors and helping in other ways as well,” Hanson said. “We have had a lot of support from everyone.”
Hurley was the subject of a Pilot article last July on her experiences at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City. She was one of eight instructors from a field of national applicants chosen to take part in a museum-sponsored teaching fellowship. Hurley had planned to return in 2013.
Curator of Education Lora Vogt said that Hurley will be missed by many.
“The enthusiasm and insight she shared in her week on property and throughout the term not only impacted the National World War I Museum, but reflected how she was Teacher of the Year at her school,” Vogt said. “(It reflects) why her loss has so deeply impacted our teacher fellowship class, who around the country are mourning the loss of a friend.”
Contact John Lentz at (910) 693-2479 or email@example.com.
More like this story