Stephen Hurley currently lives at the intersection of two passions. A life-long love of radio (since Grade 4) and a 30-year career in public education in Ontario, Canada. Stephen is the architect and chief catalyst behind voicEd Radio—a 24/7 radio station dedicated to deepening the way we talk about education in Canada and around the world. Enjoy!
Your Background and as a Student
I grew up in a suburban neighborhood just outside Toronto, Canada. I was a fairly compliant student. I don’t remember ever disliking school but there were many times when I felt out of place. I learned that I loved to read and write early on in my schooling and I’ve found opportunities to nurture both of these passions in my personal and professional life. I was often caught daydreaming in class—something else that has stayed with me throughout life.
Fourth grade was, arguably, the most important year of my schooling. It was during this year that I discovered a love for radio and a real passion for music. My Grade 4 teacher, Sr. Leona introduced me to a cassette tape recorder and a Radio Shack microphone and the combination of these two pieces of technology-fueled a passion to work in the broadcasting industry. Unfortunately, my parents insisted that I go to university instead of radio college, but the passion for the medium continued to inspire and attract me.
This was also the year that my parents bought a piano. I had been “playing” at my grandmother’s house since I was a small child but it wasn’t until I was 9 that a piano actually made its way into our house. Music became a central part of my growing up. A few years later I started playing piano and organ at our local church, a post that I held for over 30 years. I still play every day and I find great joy in continuing my journey through the worlds of both jazz and classical music.
Your family and where you live now
I waited until later in life to settle down and get married to the wonderful Zoe Jordan. I retired from teaching 7 years ago, but have 10 and 12-year-old boys (Luke and Liam) and am loving watching them move through these years of living and learning.
I haven’t ventured too far from the place where I was raised but I do long to pick up stakes and move out to the country!
Your journey as an educator
Although my mom insists that she always knew I would be a teacher, it wasn’t something that was really on my radar. In fact, I’m one of those people who kind of fell into the profession. I had been studying philosophy and theology and when I left my studies at a Roman Catholic seminary, I really didn’t know what to do. So, after a year working for Bell Canada, I applied to the teachers’ college and immediately fell in love with the work.
Throughout my career, I’ve always enjoyed being “on the edge” of things. An early adopter and enthusiastic “embracer” of change, technology and new approaches to teaching and learning, life as a teacher have allowed me to explore imagination, creativity, and innovation in ways that other professions would not have permitted.
I’ve always been a little bit restless and this resulted in me applying for a variety of different roles and, when I couldn’t find something that captured my imagination, writing proposals for the positions that I wanted.
I spent 30 years with the same school district in Ontario but held a variety of roles: Grade 4-8 classroom teacher, technology resource, teacher educator and arts consultant.
But, you know, there’s a sense in which an entirely new career in education has taken flight since “retiring” 7 years ago.
In 2011, I became a little frustrated by some of the polarization that was developing on social media and across the blogosphere. I felt that there was a need to invite deeper and broader conversations about the issues that were important to us as educators and so I started voicEd.ca—originally a multi-author blog space invited contributions from across the education landscape. I was hoping for a diversity of perspectives, vibrant conversation, and even some disagreement. That happened, to a degree.
In 2017, I revived that vision but, this time, drawing on my life-long passion for radio to create voicEd Radio. We are a growing community of educators, parents, researchers, policy-makers, and students who are working to help broaden and deepen the conversations that we’re having about education. Our explicit belief at voicEd Radio is, “If we want to change the way we DO education, then we’re going to have to change the way we TALK ABOUT education. And we’re doing that through the creation and network of podcasts including my own, the development of live radio shows and the coverage of education events from across Canada and around the world.
Next steps for you
I would like to continue to grow the voicEd Radio community and, in particular, nurture a vibrant live radio experience for the education community, nationally and internationally.
Stephen Hurley has been working in Canada’s education space for 35 years, serving as a classroom teacher, curriculum consultant, and teacher educator. Stephen is passionate about supporting and nurturing new conversations about education across the country. He is the architect and chief catalyst behind voicEd Radio—a 24/7 radio station dedicated to deepening the way we talk about education in Canada.
voicEd Radio is a 24/7 Internet-based radio station designed to both broaden and deepen the conversations that we have about education in Canada. Drawing on the stories, experiences, and passions of educators, students, parents and community members from across the country and around the world, voicEd Radio is a type of national gathering place for lively talk, insight and debate about the things that matter most to us in education.
For all of the Conversations on Learning podcasts with Barbara Bray, click on the podcast tab at the top, the logo below, or go to https://barbarabray.net/podcasts/