LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - Pushing students to give them a brighter future. It's not always easy, but it's what one Lauderdale County educator is known for.
Her name is Linda Quigley and she teaches the Jobs for Alabama's Graduates or "JAG" program at Wilson School.
"People would probably describe it as an at risk program," Quigley explained, "I don't like that word because I feel like all kids are at risk."
JAG focuses on giving students career development skills: leadership, social and civic awareness. The students then put those skills to the test at conferences and competitions.
Student Madison Phillips tells WHNT News 19 Quigley's impact goes far beyond academics though. In nominating Quigley for our Tools for Teacher's award, Phillips wrote: Mrs. Quigley really loves the students at Wilson High School and she's always there for you. Say you're having a bad day and need someone to talk to about it, she's there for you. I feel like she need to be recognized.
When we showed up at Wilson School to surprise Quigley and honor her as a winner, Phillips joined us.
She broke down a bit as she hugged Quigley and described the educator's emotional impact, "You motivate us to do better," Phillips said, tearing up.
Later, in a hallway interview, Phillips shared a few more details about Quigley's impact on her family. As Phillips explained, her brother just became a father recently and has gone through some difficult times after getting in legal trouble.
"He's doing fine now but, it's still hard," Phillips explained. "It is hard," Quigley added while jumping in, "And it's hard for [Madison] to have to go through that."
Quigley said the core of what she does is helping kids like this; those who need an emotional lift as well as academic.
She's happy to be the one to push them and thrilled when they reach new heights.
Her students, by the way, just did very well at a recent competition. You can see the results here. Some of them are now headed to Birmingham to compete at the state level in April.