Friday, March 18, 2016
For Immediate Release 

Teacher Spotlight: Ana Hurley, Dover-Sherborn Middle School

Leading the Way in Science Education in the Classroom and Beyond

Teaching middle school is not a task for the faint of heart. With its unique challenges, the job requires patience, a hearty sense of humor and a little bit of wackiness to keep up with the crowd. Meet Ana Hurley, seventh grade life science teacher at Dover-Sherborn Middle School. Ana started her teaching career in 1999 and has been with Dover-Sherborn for the past eleven years. Passionate, animated and full of energy, Ana feels right at home with her middle school students. Of teaching seventh grade, she says “I don’t think it’s an accident that this is where I’ve landed. I love working with the middle of the middle!” And she means it. When you meet Ms. Hurley it quickly becomes clear that she truly loves what she does. She approaches her profession with unparalleled enthusiasm and earnestness and is always looking for ways to grow and evolve as an educator.

Ana Hurley, science teacher at Dover-Sherborn Middle School, speaks at Cambridge College Science Colloquium

Hurley reports that the Museum Institute for Teaching Science (MITS) has been one of the significant players in her evolution as an educator.  In 2015, Hurley enrolled in the MITS Metro-West Summer Professional Development Institute, Things that Move: How Scientists, Engineers and Artists Investigate Motion. She knew of MITS’ reputation for providing educators with meaningful professional development experiences. When she came across their Summer Professional Development Institutes, Ana knew she had to take the plunge. “I was attracted to the inquiry-based approach with [its] hands-on, minds-on theme. I was also drawn to the unique locations of the meetings. Drumlin Farms, The Discovery Museums and The McAuliffe Center are all nearby and are wonderful locations for learning,” she says.

Hurley found the institute to be a highly valuable experience that has profoundly changed the way she approaches inquiry-science. “Its pretty incredible given that I’ve been in the classroom for over 16 years,” she says. “Most teachers at this stage have ‘seen it all’ and can be rather set in their ways.” But not Ana Hurley. She took the skills she developed and the resources she gathered from the Summer Professional Development Institute and applied them immediately in the 2015-2016 school year.


Ms. Hurley incorporates opportunities for art in her science classroom


Students make their own plant cell models – using cake!


Ms. Hurley’s students try out computer science coding with Project GUTS

In particular, Hurley found the practice of journal-keeping a powerful tool for engaging her students in science. As part of the Institute, participants kept science notebooks where they recorded data, wrote observations and developed their own investigations. Hurley added her own twists to the format, and incorporated notebooks into her curriculum. “Nature journaling” is now a part of students’ weekly homework assignments and students have created their very own science blogs. Ms. Hurley also regularly takes her classes outdoors to observe the natural world. “It is a wonderfully non-threatening way to teach kids that we are all scientists,” she says, “that we can notice (observe) and wonder (question, inquire, hypothesize) about the world around us.”

Hurley says “I feel strongly that my students understand that science is around us and slowing down to savor the moments, to notice our surroundings and to wonder about the interactions of living things are at the heart of all science.”

In addition to adopting new activities, Ms. Hurley has also focused on fostering a culture of safety and acceptance in her classroom this year. From the summer institute, Ms. Hurley learned the importance of allowing students to make mistakes, and she developed the skills needed to guide them to correct their errors on their own. “The results are so powerful,” she says “the students own so much more of their experiences and the learning is far more authentic.” Hurley attributes her adoption of this teaching style to the institute’s instructors. “Each teacher/presenter exemplified the strategies we were learning while they taught.” she says. “It was wonderful to have such teachers as mentors while learning about good inquiry practices.”

Ana’s passion for science education is not only prominent in her classroom, but carries over into other aspects of her career as well. As Massachusetts has been developing the Revised Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Standards, Ms. Hurley has been helping fellow educators align their current curricula with these revised standards. She presented on preparing to adopt the revised standards at the 2014 and 2015


Educators gather for Middle School Science Summit, organized by Ana Hurley.

Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers (MAST) Annual Conferences,  and most recently she spoke on the subject at the Second Annual Science Colloquium at Cambridge College.

In early 2015, Hurley created the Middle School Science Summit, a group of middle school science curriculum chairs who discuss the how to implementation of the revised standards. Over twenty Massachusetts school districts are represented in the group. In the December 2015, the Dover-Sherborn Middle School Headmaster’s Monthly Report said, “We are very proud of Mrs. Hurley…She has really become a leader in the field of middle school science education.”

Ana Hurley has truly embraced the practice of inquiry-based science and models best practices as she shares her expertise and passion for learning with her students and colleagues.

Ana (left) participates in Summer Professional Development Institute


Ana participates in Summer Professional Development Institute.

Ana participates in Summer Professional Development Institute.

Looking to get involved with the Middle School Science Summit? The next meeting will be held May 4th at Dover-Sherborn Middle School. Contact Ana at for more info. 

Interested in registering for a Summer Professional Development Institute? MITS is offering both hybrid and on-site institutes in five Massachusetts regions this year. Learn more about our 2016 Summer Professional Development Institutes here. MITS is a not-for-profit corporation that collaborates with formal and informal education institutions to provide STEM professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers and non-profit organizations across Massachusetts. Program offerings include week-long graduate level Summer Professional Development Institutes, day-long Professional Development Seminars and Customized School Services.  For more information, visit