Educator Spotlight: Meet Desiree Alexander
Educational consultant in Louisiana pushes teachers with honesty, heart
This story is part of a weekly series that celebrates outstanding teachers in our Flipgrid community. Stories by Angela Tewalt.
Many times in both our personal and professional lives, a pat on the back is not enough.
Pacifying encouragement is nice. To be told that we are doing good work or that we are on the right track is helpful, but honesty is what always prevails.
To work an honest job takes people in our lives to ask you what you want, to tell you what they see and to expect vulnerability in return. A good friend, a good colleague, is an honest one, and Desiree Alexander is the trustworthy helper that teachers around the world are benefitting from today.
She embraces life so genuinely, so beautifully, and sees the bigger picture that sometimes is difficult for others to see. She takes all of it in – and not for herself. For you.
“If we could take ego out of education, just imagine the stuff we could do for our kiddos,” says Desiree, who works as an educational consultant in Shreveport, Louisiana. “We worry about ourselves – about how we look or how we can progress – but it’s not about you. We’re here for the kids!
“Teachers are in a service profession they chose for themselves, so I try to take to take out the ego and have real conversations when they need to be had. I’m not everybody’s cup of tea – nobody is – but I am here to help people, and so that’s how I try to live my life.”
A Teacher Helping Teachers
Desiree has always wanted to be in education. She was the child who made charts, played school at home, had all the workbooks on her nightstand and began studying education without even considering another option. Her desire to help people was innate, and teaching was her way to get there.
“I was a military brat who was raised by a strong mom and a strong dad,” Desiree says. “I was always meeting different people and being introduced into different cultures. I was also born with a cleft lip and cleft palate, which means I had things to overcome, but that brought me into such an empathetic space today. I don’t ever want to shut people down.”
She began her teaching career in a fifth-grade classroom before realizing only one year in that she reveled in supporting the adults around her as much as the students. By year two, she was creating a teacher’s handbook for her colleagues alongside her classroom curriculum.
“We would get all these new teachers in the district, and nobody knew what to do,” Desiree says. “They didn’t even know who to ask for a stapler! That’s where my passion to help teachers began. Now, I’m not the mama anymore. I’m the auntie. I’m the support person.”
Empowering Future Leaders in Education
Today, Desiree has two jobs, both in which she helps teachers. She works for an educational nonprofit that focuses on teacher advocacy and professional development, and she also runs her own consulting business, Educator Alexander, in which she trains teachers on classroom management, integrating technology, professional leadership and branding. She leads both with a selfless heart.
“I’ll have people call me at 10 o’clock at night in tears about test scores or something, but I’m going to listen, because I hope people would do that for me,” Desiree says. “I really do try to treat people the way I want to be treated. If I’m concerned about something, I want to be heard. Even if you don’t validate my concern, I still want to be able to finish my sentence. So I do the same for others every day. When I make people feel heard and safe, hopefully they will ask questions and grow.”
Desiree is full of energy. She has containers full of dress-up clothes, is sarcastic whenever she wants to be and has a laugh that you can’t help but laugh along with her. Her smile is warm and welcoming and you just want to chat with her for hours, but she has a stern love, too – the kind of love that doesn’t let you get away with anything because she knows you’re capable of more.
Both with her students and all the teachers she guides today, she challenges people bravely and boldly to help themselves so they can help others grow, too.
“I believe you’re not a leader until you create other leaders,” Desiree says. “Whenever I talk to leadership teams, I tell them, ‘You should expect your people to lead. You should hope that they leave you and become someone like you in other places!’ We should always expect to be growing.”