Gail L. Quinn, English teacher at Huffman High School, has been a part of Birmingham City Schools for quite some time. In fact,Quinn is a product of the system, having attended Kingston Elementary and Carol W. Hayes High School.
Quinn received her B.S., M.S., and Ed. S. from Alabama State, and has been employed with BCS for 35 years, serving in a wide variety of roles ranging from Community Education Assistant to Educational Secretary to Assistant Principal. Now at Huffman, Quinn wears many hats, serving as English Department chairperson, PALS sponsor, member of the security team, band volunteer and tutor.
As a ninth- and twelfth-grade English teacher, Quinn knows how important it is to start with a plan, and hers is to make sure students are college- and career-ready. To do this, Quinn infuses her classes with projects, cooperative team learning activities, student discovery, and research while also making sure her students are equipped with valuable life skills. “I use a lot of hands-on learning exercises,” Quinn says, noting that it is essential “to bring students into the learning process.”
In her role as PALS sponsor, Quinn coordinates the many outreach activities that the group participates in; the PALS, a peer-assisted leadership program, often provide direct services to other students in the high school, such as freshman and those in the specials needs program. As part of the College Prep Institute, PALS also participate in bi-monthly sessions on college readiness, such as FAFSA and essay-writing workshops, and visited Lawson and UAB in February to learn more about the campuses’ Joint Admission program.
Quinn is undoubtedly passionate about what she does, and is dedicated to her job and her students, partly, perhaps, because she strives to stay a student, too. “As a teacher, I have remained a student,” Quinn says. “I think it is very important to learn everything I can about my field, to stay up-to-date on standards and trends, and learn how to best utilize technology in the classroom.”
But the most important thing, she says, is to remember why you’re a teacher in the first place: “Be flexible and be human, but above all, love your students.”