Brownstown Central High School teacher retires after 39 years in education


Juniors in Rock Hurley’s U.S. history class at Brownstown Central High School rave about him.

KaCee Collins said he is always positive, and it’s a good way to start her day at school.

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Joey Hampton said that makes it easy to learn.

“I’ve never seen him have a bad day,” he said.

Gunnar Zickler echoed those thoughts.

“He always just lightens up the day whenever he talks or what he says,” he said. “He just made my day better. He made my high school career better.”

Ariana Benge, Kiley Stidham and Jackson Lahrman all said Hurley is passionate about his students and his job.

“He cares about everybody. He’s just a very good individual, not just as a teacher but as a person, too,” Benge said.

“He obviously loves what he does, and he loves his students and has a passion for it, and it makes learning easier for everybody,” Lahrman said.

Destiny Satterthwaite said Hurley is the type of teacher that she would want her younger siblings to have.

Macy Bailey said she is the last of her siblings to have Hurley as a teacher.

“The only teacher they ever talked about in the whole school was him, and for me to be able to be in his class for his last year is a really good opportunity,” she said.

After 39 years in education, Hurley is retiring. He has spent the past 36 years at Brownstown.

“I’m going to miss the students. Brownstown Central has an outstanding student body, and I will miss them,” he said.

“But I’m 62, I’ve done it for 39 years and that’s enough,” he said, smiling.

Hurley grew up with parents and grandparents who were teachers, so he knew he wanted to follow that career path.

“My dad (Charles Hurley) was the longtime principal at Jennings County, and I knew from the time I was a little kid that’s what I wanted to do,” he said. “And my grandma and grandpa were both teachers, so it’s a long history of education in my family.”

Charles Hurley was a coach before he became principal, and Jennings County High School’s gymnasium is named in his honor.

“I grew up as a gym rat and just couldn’t turn it down, couldn’t say no,” Rock said of following in his father’s footsteps.

Rock played football, wrestled and threw the shot put and discus for the track and field team until graduating from Jennings County High School in 1974.

He chose to continue playing football at Ball State University in Muncie and was a nose tackle on the 1976 Mid-American Conference championship team.

“It paid for my education. Full scholarship, we’ll take it,” Rock said of playing football in college.

He still proudly wears his MAC championship ring today.

“You bet,” he said, smiling.

When he graduated from Ball State in 1979, he had a bachelor’s degree in education. He majored in physical education and health, minored in U.S. history and obtained a certification in driver’s education.

Through student teaching at Indianapolis Tech while in college, he became connected with the principal at Jeffersonville High School. In his three years there, he taught U.S. history and driver’s education and served as an assistant coach with the football and track and field teams.

Then in the fall of 1982, he filled an open PE teaching job at Brownstown Central High School.

“My mom and dad were both Brownstown High School grads, so my family has got long roots here at Brownstown,” Rock said.

He later taught driver’s education until that program was dropped at the school, and then he just taught U.S. history.

“You’ve got your set curriculum standards that you’ve got to cover. Then outside of that, I think you have a little bit of fun,” Rock said of U.S. history.

For example, his students have done impersonations of historical figures where they research the person and dress like them for a class presentation.

“I don’t believe that education has to be drudgery,” he said. “There are certain things that you have to accomplish, but you try to make it enjoyable along the way.”

Rock also is proud to have started the School to Work program more than 20 years ago. That allows seniors on track for graduation to intern in their field of interest and get a taste of what it will be like.

“Sometimes, a kid, for example, thinks, ‘I want to go into nursing,’ and then they get over there and they can’t handle the blood and the body fluids,” Rock said. “It’s better they figure that out before they go to college and spend money.”

The seniors are released from school two hours a day to go to work. Some do it for one trimester, while others may go all three.

“It’s very rewarding to see these kids go out and succeed in a job situation,” Rock said. “I am extremely impressed with the business and industry here in Jackson County and how cooperative they have been in finding these internships for these students.”

Dan Schwartz will take over the program in the 2018-19 school year, and Hurley said more than 70 seniors are expected to be involved.

“It just continues to grow,” he said.

Rock also served as the head football coach at Brownstown for six years and was an assistant track and field coach.

In terms of retiring, Rock said that thought didn’t enter his mind until earlier this month at a family gathering.

“My two younger brothers have retired, my one sister that’s older retired and they said, ‘Hey, come on. Let’s get retired and start enjoying things,’” he said. “It made sense.”

His wife, Sally, also recently retired from teaching at Jennings County.

Once Rock finishes teaching U.S. history summer school July 20, he will officially be retired.

He said it will be difficult not seeing the students every day.

“They are bright. They are extremely intelligent,” he said. “The computer has definitely changed things dramatically. When I first started, there was no such thing as computers. Computerization has been kind of tough for me because I didn’t grow up with it. If I have a problem now with a computer, I have one of these kids come forward, and they fix it for me. They grew up with it.”

He also said he has been fortunate to work alongside a great staff.

“Brownstown Central has always had a very strong teaching staff, and it still is today. Right now, there are probably nine or 10 teachers here that I had as students,” he said. “That’s the strength of the school corporation. Those old-timers when I first started, they were tremendous mentors for me. That was very, very positive.”

With the leadership of Principal Joe Sheffer and Assistant Principal Mark DeHart, Rock said the school is in good hands.

“Right now, we’ve got two outstanding administrators, the best I have seen in my time here at Brownstown,” he said. “I think the whole thing looks good for Brownstown Central.”

In retirement, Rock said he plans to do a little bit of farming and may spend time with other hobbies.

“We’ll figure that out as we go,” he said, smiling.

Looking back on his career, Rock said it was great helping young people grow and develop.

“I am extremely grateful to my Lord and Savior for allowing me to work with his kids for 39 years,” he said. “This has been a great experience.”

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Name: Rock Hurley

Age: 62

Hometown: North Vernon

Residence: Brownstown

Education: Jennings County High School (1974); Ball State University (bachelor’s degree in education with a major in physical education and health, a minor in U.S. history and a certification in driver’s education, 1979); Indiana University (master’s degree in education, 1982)

Occupation: Retiring after 39 years in education (first three years at Jeffersonville High School and the past 36 years at Brownstown Central High School)

Family: Wife, Sally Hurley; children, Fayeann Hurley, Loriann Wessel and Brant Hurley; grandchildren, Carly and Henry Wessel