Occoquan’s Mary Alexander, longest-serving staff member, plans to retire
Posted on 11/20/2018
Picture of Mary Alexander surrounded by students in Occoquan Elementary School library.Occoquan Elementary School is known for the camaraderie of its employees, volunteers, parents, and students. When Mary Alexander announced her retirement, her colleagues were happy for her but sad to say goodbye. Alexander, library media assistant, has served at Occoquan for 32 years and is now working with the children of many former students.

“We begged her not to retire,” said Assistant Principal Bill Knight. “She is a great employee and dedicated to assisting with making this school great.”

Alexander sees herself as someone behind the scenes. Knight describes her as one of those employees “you just let know what you want done, and then get out of the way, and let them do it.” He added, “When she retires, a true treasure will walk out the door.”

Mary Alexander standing next to student sitting in chair. Mrs. Alexander is holding a cartoon head with a black hat and the student is holding a blue cartoon shark figure.Alexander loves the time she spends with students—mentoring them and helping with their library catalog research, assisting Librarian Christine Brooks with classes, and participating in fifth-grade graduation and multicultural events. Alexander is also the school’s federal impact aid coordinator; a member of the crisis management team; Spanish translator and interpreter for administrators, teachers, parents, and students; proctor for standardized tests in the spring; and the go-to person for audiovisual needs in classrooms. She also trains adult and high school volunteers.

“One of my favorite things is watching the students' excitement as new books and authors are introduced,” Alexander said. “You can see their love of reading grow from year to year. Our new MakerSpace in the library keeps the students excited, too.”

“Mrs. Alexander is always happy, outgoing, and ready to help,” said Nuvia Flores, registrar and secretary at Occoquan. “She gives 110 percent and is amazing on Book Character Day and for tribal ceremonies. This beautiful, stylish lady transforms herself into characters that students love and remember. She loves the children, and Occoquan loves her. We are all family and she is part of the family. We will really miss her,” Flores said.

Brooks says she feels speechless when she thinks of Alexander's retirement. "To have her as my partner for 17 years and have her show me the ropes as my mentor when I arrived has been a blessing. She spreads joy, and I will miss her every day," she said.

Alexander will retire on December 31, after 36 years in PWCS—32 of those years at Occoquan. Her husband Neil retired from the School Division five years ago. They plan to travel Europe, and visit their son who lives in Oslo, Norway.