I am writing to further celebrate the life and mark the passing of our beloved teacher, Betty Hurd.
Mrs. Hurd was my Communication Arts teacher in 1996-97, when I was a junior and senior at Warwick. There was something thrilling about putting on the news in Mrs. Hurd’s class. It was serious business and Mrs. Hurd lead the newsroom as if it were NBC. She sent us out on hard-hitting video journalism assignments but also gave us very creative prompts as well. I found that the news was not necessarily for me, as I was drawn to video art. Instead of trying to box me into more traditional pursuits, she allowed me to really push my creative spirit and even egged me on to do stranger, more artsy video work. I found her class to actually be the best space to experiment and she provided guidance and support, and always a wry sense of humor!
Many video hijinks ensued… loaning me her legless mannequin we named “Mrs. Haversham,” giving me a wide array of kooky costumes and hats to use from her personal collection as well as giving me the tools to research esoteric music and art-films (before Google!) As a senior, Mrs. Hurd allowed me to essentially forego all her assignments and she created an ‘independent study’ for me so I could truly experiment and explore what kind of art can be made with video. And as extra-curricular, she helped me develop a sequence of video art that got me into the college of my choice. Heretofore, I had not found that kind of freedom and expression in the high school.
Mrs. Hurd was a revelation, a master teacher, even a guru; because she elicited a cult-like following amongst her students. Her classroom was a safe space, a haven, a respite within the doldrums of high school. Even though it’s been over 20 years, so many stories come quickly to mind- that’s how memorable she was. Although I didn’t become a Communications major, I did go into the Visual Arts field. The way she taught has stayed with me forever and inspired me as I now teach college art.
I am writing this to the community because Betty Hurd was a treasure and the loss is immense. Please help continue her good work and memory by donating to the Elizabeth Hurd Memorial Scholarship for Excellence in Communications, payable to the Warwick Valley CSD PO Box 595, Warwick, NY 10990.