It was an hour into the school day and Alex Quigley '99 was standing in front of a room full of kindergarten students. The students were sitting on a carpet, each child assigned to a colored square. Quigley, motioning with a pointer tipped by a yellow star, looked like he was waving a magic wand.

"Who knows a word like bat?" he said. "Bat. Bah-tuh."

"Cat," a boy named Tony said.

"Good," said Quigley.

"Fat," said a little girl named Quintina.

"What letter makes the 'fuh, fuh' sound?" Quigley asked.

Quintina looked stumped.

"Fuh, fuh," Quigley said, his pointer at his side. "Call someone to help you."

Eventually someone came up with the answer and the class moved on, the children blissfully unaware that they are being educated by a game young teacher working to try to make a difference in what is arguably- if you can judge a school by its students' performance on standardized tests- the most challenged elementary school in Mississippi, and one of the poorest-performing schools in the country.


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