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TUSD Test Coordinator completes Boston Marathon as part of mother-daughter duo

Update: April 21, 2015 - Cindy Hurley completed the marathon in 6:12 hours. Her daughter, Jodie Hurley Poirier, completed it in 4:44 hours. Together, they raised $15,000 for the South Boston Boys and Girls Club.

Posted April 17, 2015

When Cindy Hurley, TUSD's test coordinator, lived in the Boston area prior to moving to Tucson decades ago, she secretly hoped that one day she would run the Boston Marathon.

This year, she will make that dream come true. Hurley will join her daughter, Jodie Hurley Poirier, an alumni of Howell Elementary School, in competing as a mother-daughter duo in the 2015 Boston Marathon.

"It was now or never!" she and her daughter decided.

"I am excited about running the oldest race in the country," Hurley says, "but what has made it more fun is that my daughter, Jodie, and I committed to raising a minimum of $13,000 for a South Boston Boys and Girls Club."

A long-time supporter of her local Boys and Girls club, Hurley and her daughter wanted their participation in the Boston marathon to support a Boys and Girls Club in South Boston. "It has been a fun challenge to raise that money," Hurley says, "and I am so honored for the support from the TUSD community along with so many Tucsonans!"

Hurley, who started with the district in 1989 as a Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) teacher, began running while she was working towards her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Arizona. Since being a graduate student required more sitting than she was accustomed to, running provided an excellent way for her to get more cardio. While running on the indoor track at the UA recreation center, a track mate asked if she'd be running the Tucson marathon. Surprised that Tucson had a marathon, she now had a goal to work towards, and in 2003, she competed in the Tucson half-marathon, running the full marathon the following year.

Though she claims she's not "a die-hard runner," Hurley manages to combine an ambitious exercise routine with her busy professional life as the district's test coordinator. She lifts weights twice a week, runs three times a week and participates in a Pilate's class once a week. "I have to admit during state testing, I have missed many runs in order to do my job effectively and be responsive to the schools," she says, "but I will still try to get in an early or late run when possible." And when it's not, she just might fit in a 13+ mile run on the weekend.

The flexibility that she applies to her exercise schedule serves her well professionally, too. As the district test coordinator, she draws on her experience as a counselor, teacher, and researcher. She has worked with parents to help relieve their concerns about testing and to learn how they can support their children in school. At the same time, she helps teachers use their school data to more effectively guide their teaching strategies.

"I feel my role is to provide balance to teachers and principals when it comes to testing," she says. "Testing that has accountability attached to it can be stressful, so I want schools to take testing seriously, understand and follow all testing protocols, but at the same time keep testing in perspective and not allow it to bring on such stress that students pick up on it and then become test anxious."

Hurley has also adopted bullying prevention as a cause. "I have a great passion for bullying prevention," she says, "and whenever possible, I get involved in advising or supporting initiatives involving anti-bullying. I participated in TUSD's Health Extravaganza in February and provided information and ideas to parents and educators on the topic of bullying."

As she winds up testing week at TUSD and prepares for the competition on Monday in Boston, her colleagues and the TUSD community congratulate her and wish her and her daughter luck.

 Cindy Hurley  Don't worry! We'll get it done!
The dedication of her colleagues motivates Cindy Hurley

"Honestly, what has been so rewarding for me and kept me in TUSD are the people I work with and support at all our schools. I have the benefit of working with every school, and the commitment I see from so many people is what inspires and humbles me. It is the educators who work endlessly, not because of the pay, but because they truly care.

"At every school, there are people who always step up to the plate. The AzMERIT testing is a good example The ink on the test books was barely dry when 850 boxes arrived in disarray just a week ago. People came together, regardless of job description, to sort the boxes, deliver or pick-up the boxes, and then schools had to organize and label all materials in a mere three days... some working madly to label late nights and weekends. I heard said so many times, 'Don't worry Cindy.We will get it done!' That is what is rewarding about TUSD."

--Cindy Hurley, TUSD Test Coordinator