Sisterly Harmony

Tiffany Rodrigues and Hillary Hess…

A young Hillary Hurley Hess instantly fell in love with show choir when Parsons Junior High School’s Music in Motion performed at her elementary school. “They did a performance in their shiny vests and stirrup leggings, and it looked like so much fun,” Hillary says. A few years later, she was delighted to be one of the rare students selected to join the group as a sixth-grader.

It ended up being a package deal, however. When Hillary’s mom brought her first-grade sister Tiffany to pick her up from practice, Director Adrienne Jacoby snagged the little curly-haired bundle of energy and gave her a solo. “I came to every practice, I was in all the pictures, I was at the top of the pyramid,” says Tiffany Hurley Rodrigues. “Hillary still tells her students that story.”

“Right?” Hillary adds. “I tell them, if you don’t get a solo, at least you lost out to a peer and not your little sister.”

Photo by Jeannine Hendrickson

Today, the Hurley girls are both instrumental in the show pop groups that helped shape their childhoods. Hillary has been music director at Parsons since 2002, taking over for Jacoby, who had held the role for decades. Tiffany became assistant director and head choreographer for Music in Motion in 1999 as a high school freshman, and took on the same roles for Enterprise High School’s Starship in 2006. In addition to shining on stage, they’ve also been honored for their excellence as educators – both have been Shasta County’s Middle School Teacher of the Year, Tiffany in 2017 and Hillary in 2023.

“From the beginning of their involvement in the program, both girls were strong and reliable members of the performing ensembles,” Jacoby says. “What a joy it has been for the past 21 years for me to see Tiffany and Hillary take over and continue to build the program that was so important in my own life.”

Music seems to course through the veins of the Hurley family. Dad Lyle was a drum major at Kansas State University, and their late mom, Patricia, was a high school majorette and an extraordinary seamstress who made hundreds of costumes for her four kids’ various music groups. “I just thought this is what our family does,” Tiffany says. Indeed, siblings Bethany and Nick also participated in Music and Motion and Starship, and Bethany was a choreographer for Music in Motion.

And the next generation has also fully embraced the show pop life. Hillary’s 16-year-old daughter, Rachel, lights up the stage in Starship with her family’s trademark sparkle, and grown stepson Ryan also starred in Music in Motion and Starship. Tiffany’s 13-year-old son, Charlie, is the tall, handsome baritone in Music in Motion, and his three younger siblings are waiting in the wings for their turn in the spotlight.

Having their own children in the programs has added an extra thrill to teaching. “It gives me a deeper relationship with them, to spend that extra time with them,” Hillary says.

Naturally, they bring the same energy and passion to the stage as their moms. “I’m so impressed with these kids,” Tiffany says of Rachel and Charlie. “They’re on it all the time. They both play sports too – they push themselves and have a goal to be the shiniest stars.”

Adds Rachel, also an accomplished volleyball player at Enterprise High, “I love being able to put a smile on people’s faces because it puts a smile on my face.”

Photo by Jeannine Hendrickson

The sisters have impressed retired Enterprise High music director Dan Neece since they were in his classroom. “Outstanding performers, teachers and parents. Model citizens and community advocates. Their entire family is a powerhouse of talent to include dance, singing and acting,” Neece says. “I have such fond memories working with Hillary and Tiffany. At the time they were students of mine, I’d often think, ‘Who’s teaching whom?’ Just amazing girls on all levels of talent.”

Hillary appreciates the unique perspective that Tiffany provides when she watches Music in Motion rehearse. “I’m doing the day-to-day, so when it’s time to put the show together, it’s nice to have a fresh set of eyes and ears with the same goal in mind,” Hillary says. “We both want it to be a great product that everyone wants to see.”

The collaboration “feels natural and highlights that we are a good team,” says Tiffany, the director of instructional services for Enterprise Elementary School District. “We’re opposites in a lot of ways, and it works well. It feels good to work hard together and rest together.”

“Their ideas connect a lot,” adds Rachel, fresh out of a Starship practice.

Programs like Starship and Music in Motion are life- changers for students and for teachers. “Having had the privilege of being their teacher, colleague and friend through their lives, I can say they have both had a huge impact on everyone they’ve come in contact with throughout high school, college and as teachers,” Neece says.

The sisters feel honored to be paying it forward. “I try to make it a family for the middle-school kids,” says Hillary.

Adds Tiffany: “You live life with your music teachers. We go to camps, we have late-night rehearsals, we’re in the rain during parades. You gel and bond and come out bruised and battered and glittery and smiling. They don’t want to be anywhere else.” •

Article Written by:

Kerri Regan grew up in the North State and earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from San Francisco State University. A freelance writer and editor, Kerri enjoys exploring the North State with her husband and three children.

About enjoymagazine

At Enjoy, the goal is to share all that is good about living in the North State. To see so many people truly enjoy the magazine is an incredible reward for the whole team. Having only exposed the tip of the iceberg when it comes to story ideas, there’s so much more to share with our community in the years to come.

Related Posts