Linda Hedges presented with Pride of Safford Award

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: Linda Hedges recieves the Pride of Safford award from the Pride of Safford Committee Chairman, Chris Taylor.

By Brooke Curley

SAFFORD- After taking 13 groups of high schoolers to Europe, and organizing the Safford educational travels, Safford Unified School teacher, Linda Hedges, has been bestowed the prestigious Pride of Safford Award.

On Thursday night, Hedges, with the support of many of her family members and friends, received the Pride of Safford Award and was presented the award by Pride of Safford Chairman, Chris Taylor. Hedges started working with the Safford Unified School District 27 years ago, teaching 5th grade. At this point, Hedges teaches Lafe Nelson Elementary.

Taylor read Hedge’s story, illustrating all the time and energy Hedges spends on her students. To be able to go on one of Hedge’s student-based trips to Europe, the students have to work with their parents and raise money, keep up outstanding grades, and write papers ahead of time. Aside from requiring massive student participation, Hedges performs an immense amount of personal time on each trip.

“Linda has spent hundreds of hours at the end of each trip creating a video of the trip. Everyone gets together one more time to watch and relive their experiences,” Taylor said. “As Mark Twain said, ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.’ Linda has found a way to bring these benefits to our valley by taking young people to see the world and all its glories and they come back all the better for it.”

“I’d like to thank Ed Ragland for the nomination, ” Hedges said. “I would like to thank the Pride of Safford Committee. I am humbled and grateful for the recognition, although I would much prefer to hang back and watch my kids shine. But this is wonderful.”

Hedges has taken 325 people around the United States and abroad, and continues to be asked the golden question: Where are we going next?

Brooke Curley Photo/ Gila Valley Central: Linda Hedges, front and center, holds her Pride of Safford award, surrounded by friends and family.