With each new year come new faculty, and this year the Collegiate community was lucky to welcome new Upper School Spanish teacher, Ms. Hannah Curley. A bright and bubbly person, Curley teaches Spanish and coaches JV Gold volleyball and varsity basketball. A motivational and inspirational person, Curley is a constant smiling face in the halls, and as Ellie Fleming (‘16) says, “She is my best friend.”
Curley was born in Pennsylvania but moved to Richmond when she was twelve years old and attended Thomas Dale High School in Chester. Her favorite classes were Spanish and P.E., because those were the ones she excelled most in. In addition to her schoolwork, Curley played basketball and volleyball in high school. After high school, Curley attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. There, she majored in Spanish and played rugby, before deciding that she “wasn’t tough enough,” for a sport that rough. Then, in her junior year, she studied abroad in Spain and taught students English while there.
During college, Curley worked with the Learning Bridge program, which was hosted at Collegiate and overseen by Dr. Bart Thornton, Upper School English teacher and Dean of Faculty. This program unfortunately no longer exists, but prior to the program’s end in the economic downturn of 2008, it served middle school students in the city of Richmond who were tutored by college students through an internship-like experience. Dr. Thornton worked with Curley in this program, and he says, “she was a phenomenal teacher,” and “she did a great job with the students.”
Curley credits her former Spanish teacher from her freshman year at Thomas Dale, former Upper School Spanish teacher and current Director of International Programs and Upper School Dean of Student Life, Mrs. Erica Coffey, as her inspiration to pursue Spanish as a major and a career, as well as her inspiration to begin teaching. She first met Mrs. Coffey during the volleyball season that began before the school year and was a freshman in Mrs. Coffey’s Spanish 3 class, which was uncommon for her school. Curley excelled in Spanish. Upper School history teacher Kevin Coffey was also Curley’s basketball coach for three years at Thomas Dale. Mrs. Coffey says, “I don’t know how we’ve stayed in touch all these years. She’s a part of my family. My daughter is like her little sister.”
Last year Curley heard about a job opening for a Spanish teacher at Collegiate through the Coffeys. When I asked her what brought her to Collegiate, she said, “I applied and it just worked out.” Prior to coming to Collegiate, Curley was a German, French, Latin and Spanish teacher at Providence Middle School. It was her first year teaching, and she laughed, “we talked a lot about food.” Here, Curley is teaching several Spanish classes and coaching JV Gold volleyball and varsity basketball. She says, “Sports are my passion. One of my favorite parts of teaching is getting to coach.”
Mrs. Coffey says, “I think people would be surprised to know she is really an introvert… She is just really sweet, and she cares about her students a lot. She works really hard at everything.” Curley is passionate about each part of her life, from Spanish to sports, she is enthusiastic and hardworking. Mrs. Coffey says, “I never would have thought she would become a Spanish teacher.” Mr. Coffey agrees, saying “It’s great to have a player that I coached as a freshman now coaching alongside me… doing the same thing in the same place.”
Curley’s care for her students and players is clear. Aidan Mickleburgh (’18) says, “Spanish isn’t my best subject, but she is an amazing teacher, she always makes time for extra help.” Taylor Thackston (’17) says, “Coach Curley is so energetic and always pushes us to do better in practice.” Walker Cummins (’19) and Zach Cram (’19) spoke fondly of her in the hall, competing with each other as to who was her favorite. Olivia Hess (‘17) says, “She’s an inspirational basketball coach, she’s always working hard for the team, and she’s a great friend. She’s such an awesome coach that I sent her a carnation.” Altogether, Collegiate is lucky to have Curley as a teacher, as a coach, and as a member of the community.
Photo by Abigail Winfree.