Mr. Albert Alexander (or as the students call him, Mr. A) balances a fine line of being one of the nicest guys you could ever meet and also keeping an entire campus of students and residential staff in tip-top shape. Yet, he does it all with a smile and grace. Recently, we caught up with Mr. A to ask a couple of questions about the residential side of The Vanguard School, a school for learning differences in Florida.
Thanks so much for meeting up with us! We know you are a rather busy man. So, let's get started. Give us a description of your job role here at Vanguard.
As the Director of Residential Life, I’m responsible for hiring, training, and supervision of over 20 residential staff, including nurses and laundry staff. I'm also the administrator on duty regarding all matters involving our boarding students after-school and weekends. I am on call each weekend and evening. I partner with the academic side of the school to holistically help each student of the Vanguard School.
What brought you to The Vanguard School?
I’ve always had the desire to help students, and I was desperately looking for an opportunity to work with students with learning differences in a small school environment.
What does an average day look like for you?
I usually work Monday through Friday from 1pm until 9pm, and I’m on call 24/7 for emergencies. I
usually arrive around 12:30 PM and the first thing I do is check for any messages that I may need to attend to. I meet with the principal and the Licensed Mental Health Counselor at 1 pm daily to discuss any issues that may have occurred the evening prior, or any student who is struggling. The principal, the Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and I address issues involving students throughout the day. Normally there are administrative meetings I'm required to attend once a week. I have Residential Staff meetings twice a week. I have an open door policy so I meet with my key staff before students are released from school. If there are any issues presented to me from the meetings, I brief my key staff. Several students meet with me almost daily after school to talk about their day or maybe some issues that they are having in the dorm. I'm usually off work by 9 pm, but it really depends on situations or phone calls that I may have to return to parents before my day ends.
What would you say is your biggest concern here at The Vanguard School?
The safety of our students and staff. Parents are entrusting us to make sure that their children are receiving the best education possible and at the same time teaching them appropriate social skills. These are all very important, but nothing is more important than their safety while they are under our care.
Is there anything you would like to change?
Yes! As a matter of fact, I’m working on a Residential Curriculum that includes communal living (to get along as a group from different backgrounds and cultures), Spirituality but not Religion, Technology in Our Lives, Sex Education, Tobacco/Drug and Alcohol education, Harassment and Bullying, Healthy Relationship, Self-Esteem /Self-Concept, Team Building, Anger Management/Depression/Stress Management and Transitioning ("Saying Goodbye!").
What do you like most about being at Vanguard?
The dedication that staff brings to the school on a daily basis. It doesn't matter if you are housekeeper, hall adviser, secretary, teacher or an administrator. Everyone understands that it takes a team mentality to make sure that our students succeed.
What kind of security implementations are being done at Vanguard?
The dorms are supervised 24 hours/ 7 days weekly. There are cameras installed throughout the campus and are being monitored closely by staff and administrative personnel. Students have a curfew no later than 9 p.m. All students are required to sign in/out of their destination whenever they leave the dorm. We currently have two dorms that are equipped with alarms on all doors and windows that sounds off if someone enters or leaves the dorm. We are planning on installing the same system in the other two dorms. We also have staff patrolling the parameters of our campus. Students are not allowed to leave campus without proper authorization from parents/guardians or an Administrator.
What do you like to do for fun when you are not on call?
Landscaping and small remodeling projects at my home. This is excellent therapy for me.
Is there anything you would like to add to tell our readers?
I think that The Vanguard School provides the best opportunity for students with learning differences to learn both academically and socially in an environment where they are most comfortable because they all share one common attribute- they all learn differently. I've been here at Vanguard in two different roles, as a Dean of Students and now the Director of Residential Life, so it provides me with a clear understanding how both sides of the boarding school environment work together to ensure students reach their fullest potential.
You can contact Mr. Alexander by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org