SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – Trustees and audience members rose to their feet and applauded as Ann Alexander accepted Villager of the Month honors on Monday at the Board of Trustees meeting.

Alexander taught school for 31 years, serving as a teacher in third and fourth grades at Jefferson School in Maplewood. “Her former students still stop her on the street to tell her how they’re doing, and they introduce her to their children,” said Nonie Murphy of the South Orange Community Relations Committee, who presented the award.

Although Alexander retired from the school district in 2001, she continued to teach. She earned her certification to teach handicapped children from Seton Hall University and worked with children with autism at the Developmental Learning Center in New Providence. She returned to school, earning a master’s degree in administrative science at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

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“Never very far from children, back in South Orange and Maplewood, Ann served as a volunteer tutor in the Achieve Program,” Murphy said. Alexander was presented with the Dubrow Volunteer Award for her work.

Next, she turned her talents to a group of students at Ivy Hill School in Newark, tutoring children who came from homes where English was not the first language.

“Mrs. Alexander has left a special mark on each of the kids she’s taught from Jefferson to the children at the Developmental Center to her Achieve kids to the children at Ivy Hill – she’s unique in her ability to get through to all kinds of kids,” Murphy said.

“I’m very grateful,” Alexander said. Noting she was not used to such attention, she said, “I feel like a rock star.”

As Alexander returned to her seat, Trustee Deborah Davis Ford asked her: “How do you find time to do all of that?”

“I get up early,” Alexander said.