Katy Magazine Oct/Nov 2016
Written by Gail G. Collins
Before Roosevelt Alexander graduated high school, he knew educating children was his calling. He answered the call with 35 years of service to Katy ISD. Alexander taught, advanced to assistant principal, and then, served as principal of Katy Junior High School for 12 years. “I have taught a lot of kids in my life and been rewarded by their returning to tell me how much they were helped,” he says.
From a family of teachers
His father died of a massive heart attack at age 36, leaving seven children between the ages of 3 and 14 for his mother to raise single-handedly. Alexander was the youngest and watched four siblings graduate college, earn masters degrees, and teach. With careers in Brookshire, Angleton, Franklin and Hearne, plus Houston, his sisters and brothers tallied more than 140 years of experience between them.
Guiding young minds
Alexander began teaching at Odessa Kilpatrick School in Houston before the end of segregation, instructing fifth and sixth graders in a full complement of subjects. After integration in 1970, Alexander moved to Katy Junior High to teach math and science. “I stood in the door of the classroom and greeted the kids when they arrived,” he says fondly. “I enjoyed seeing them smile as they were catching on, learning.”
Alexander retired in 1993 as a tenured professional, but has stayed involved with Katy schools, attending assemblies and handling the finances for weekly football games. He also joined the committee to raise $748 million to build the district’s stadium.
In 1997, Alexander received a phone call, asking him to appear at a school board meeting. A school was to be named for him. It is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on an educator.
Only three houses under construction stood near the building site of the planned school at Fry and Peek Roads then. The following fall, Roosevelt Alexander Elementary opened and was dedicated before an overflowing crowd. “It is a special memory, so many people came,” he recalls. “I’ll never forget it.”
In 2008, his namesake school asked him to address the teachers. He prepared a talk, but as he arrived, a Channel 2 helicopter landed on campus. The assembly hall was packed as the television station surprised Alexander with the Sunshine Award, which is given to an educator, who goes above and beyond the call for their school and community. In Austin, state representative Bill Callegari read a resolution on the floor of the house, relating the dedication of Roosevelt Alexander to the Katy community. “God has been good to me,” Alexander says humbly. “May I be a blessing to others.” His legacy proves that. KM
Gail G. Collins writes internationally for magazines with three books on life abroad and believes writing is the perfect excuse to learn about the world.