‘Favorite teacher’ makes learning fun

(Editor’s Note: An advertisement in the Record asked that students nominate their “Favorite Teacher” to be featured in a story. This is the fourth submission received.)

When it comes to learning, Brian Hurd, who teaches social studies and computers to students in grades 6-8 at Mary of Lourdes (MOL) Middle School in Little Falls, believes in making learning fun.

“He really has a lot of fun activities in class. We play games every single day that have to do with the subject we’re learning,” said seventh-grader Maddy Ploof of Cushing.

Ploof said the fun games and the fact that Hurd revisits the information they’ve learned daily has helped her retain the knowledge. It’s something she has no doubt will come in very handy once she starts high school, she said.

“We get a way better education here, because he knows everything about it,” Ploof said.

What makes Hurd an even cooler teacher, Ploof said, is the fact that he has visited every country he teaches a subject on. Many times he shows his own home videos of the country.

“It makes it all more fun and kind of gives you a first-hand experience. Most teachers have not been to the country you learn about,” Ploof said.

Seventh grader Maddy Ploof, left, nominated Mary of Lourdes Middle School teacher, Brian Hurd, as her “favorite teacher.”
Seventh grader Maddy Ploof, left, nominated Mary of Lourdes Middle School teacher, Brian Hurd, as her “favorite teacher.”

Even though Ploof’s family travels a lot across the United States during the summer months, Hurd’s travels have inspired her to want to travel more.

Hurd has traveled to more than 40 countries, such as China, Greece, Egypt and Italy.

Another way that Hurd makes learning more fun for his students, is that he and his students often dress up in costumes related to what he teaches, such as the Civil War.

The costumes are made by Hurd’s wife, Terry.

He also incorporates artifacts he has collected on his many travels into his teaching.

When it comes to teaching, Hurd’s philosophy is to inspire his students to be the best they can be, to learn more and to be courageous to follow what they desire.

Ploof said for a while she was considering becoming a social studies teacher like Hurd. But after watching some videos recently, possibly becoming an astronaut has piqued her interest.

“Astronauts are cool,” Ploof said.

The interest in becoming a teacher began 23 years ago for Hurd. Terry, who worked as a teacher, came home one day and told him that the Sartell Middle School was seeking a male paraprofessional for special needs students.

“I didn’t know if I was interested in doing it, but she encouraged me to at least try it out. I liked it so much that I went back to school and got my teaching license,” Hurd said.

Hurd holds two bachelor’s degrees from St. Cloud State University — one in journalism, the other in education.

After working as a paraprofessional at Sartell Middle School for eight years, he began teaching at MOL.

“I’ve been here for 15 years now,” Hurd said.

Being nominated as Ploof’s favorite teacher means a lot to Hurd.

“You don’t get into this job for the money or for the hours, but when you know you have inspired a young person, that’s the payoff. That’s what makes it all worth it,” Hurd said.

Hurd said having Ploof as his student is a joy. She is very hardworking and engaged. At the end of each test, he asks the students what they have learned about the unit.

His favorite answer that Ploof answered that had she not learned about Kaiser Wilhelm II (a German emperor), she would have never chosen to watch a documentary of him on her own time.