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Swampscott school psychologist is Educator of the Year

Superintendent Pamela Angelakis, right, and Nancy Hanlon, president of the Swampscott Education Association, with Liam Hurley. (Courtesy photo)

SWAMPSCOTT — Liam Hurley is more than just a school psychologist. He’s Swampscott’s educator of the year.

The Stanley Elementary School’s in-house psychologist and adjustment counselor was on vacation with his wife when he got the call Aug. 17. Nancy Hanlon, president of the Swampscott Education Association (SEA), was the one who told Hurley he was selected by his peers for the honor.

“I had just gotten to South Carolina,” said Hurley. “My wife and I had landed, got to the hotel, and started walking around the city when I saw Nancy calling.”

Hurley said he let it go to voicemail, where Hanlon assured him she was calling to give good news. He said he was hesitant to call her back, given she’s not usually one to phone him. When he returned her call, he said, he was ecstatic to find out he was named SEA’s Educator of the Year.

Hurley grew up in Billerica with his parents, who both worked in the school system. His father was a guidance counselor and physics teacher and his mother was a nurse. They both worked at the Saint Agnes School in Arlington, where Hurley graduated. The high school was also where he met Gina, his wife of six years.

“I always had a sense I’d be working in a school since both of my parents were educators,” said Hurley. “It was a fun four years, but the only benefit of them working there (at Saint Agnes School) was I got to store my lunch in my mom’s work fridge. I always had a nice, cold lunch.”

After high school, he attended Boston University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. Soon after, he went to Tufts University for his Master’s in school psychology and his educational specialist degree.

Hurley’s first job out of school was at Stanley Elementary, where he has been since 2010. Superintendent Pamela Angelakis, who was the school’s principal at the time, hired him.

“I knew quickly he was a superstar and a master of his craft,” said Angelakis. “I am proud to call him a colleague and I’m excited that his peers have recognized his contributions to the district with this award.”

Hurley calls the elementary school a “Stanley family” because the teachers and staff form a community he enjoys being a part of. He said there are a lot of dedicated people in the building who have worked there for a long time, dedicating themselves to the school and to Swampscott.

He said he is inspired on a daily basis by the people who grew up in the town and stayed there to teach the future generations of Swampscott.

“No matter what school you’re in, the people who choose to do that work are there because they like working with children or young adults, and they see that as a way to make a difference or to help,” said Hurley.

 

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