Alexander Enjoys Classroom, Focuses on Student-Teacher Relationships


Nick Bumgardner, Staff Writer, Journalism I

This year Notre Dame Academy welcomes a new teacher to the English Department.  A familiar face on campus as the varsity basketball coach, AJ Alexander plans on taking his coaching skills from the court to the classroom.

“I just finished in May at UW-Green Bay, and it was a major in education and a minor in human development,” said Alexander.

“I was originally going to school to become a middle school teacher, and that was my first thought, but then this job came from nothing and it’s exciting. I was able to interview for it, and everything went well.  I’m really happy just to be here,” he continued.

Alexander spent time gathering vital teaching experience at many schools in the local area, including Aldo Leopold Community School, Suamico Elementary School, DePere Middle School, Fox View Intermediate School and Luxemburg-Casco Intermediate School.

For Alexander, Notre Dame wasn’t necessarily the first landing spot in mind, but his connection to the baseball and basketball teams ultimately played a key role in his decision making process.

“I definitely, when I first graduated, kept my options open. I kept looking for more and more jobs when they’d open up.  If an interview was available, I’d try and wiggle my way in, but I did know that, just from coaching, it would be cool to be here and know people already in the building,” said Alexander.

As the head basketball coach at Notre Dame and a JV assistant coach for baseball, Alexander is no stranger to giving instruction.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned from coaching that I can bring to the classroom is the opportunity to connect to kids, not just on a coach-to-player level or a teacher-to-student level, but also just a person-to-person level.  I think that connection is probably my favorite part of the coaching-teaching aspect, that I can basically let the kids know that “Hey, who cares if it’s baseball or English class, you can talk to me about anything,’ and that’s ultimately why I’m here, to be a good role model as best I can to all you guys here at Notre Dame, whether you’re inside the classroom or outside of it,” he said.

As an English teacher responsible for teaching everyone from freshmen to seniors, Alexander’s versatility in the classroom is on full display each day.

Despite making the jump from middle school to high school, he welcomes the new experience, recognizing the differences between teaching the two age groups.

“The biggest difference is the maturity level for sure, but with that comes the maturity for kids to understand that school work is school work, and it needs to be done in order to move on to the next level.  You kind of learn those skills, and it becomes real for students and they say, ‘Hey, I need to do this and do it well to get to college.’”

The transition, Alexander says, has been one he has enjoyed.

“It definitely helps that I can be more of myself with students that are a little bit older,” Alexander said.

“The most rewarding part of being a teacher would definitely be the relationships you get to make with the kids,” he continued.

For Alexander, this will be his first year teaching, and he’s certainly looking forward to a great year and even better memories to come.