Alex Bower-Leet gets a special feeling when he walks into a school. “I really come alive.”
Since he was a child, Alex has wanted to help people. As a young adult, he discovered that his passion lies in helping kids – specifically in an educational setting. He has spent this semester at Miriam School, completing his practicum as a teaching assistant.
His practicum is the culmination of nine years of schooling leading to a bachelor’s degree in educational studies from University of Missouri – St. Louis. It has been a journey, he says.
After graduating high school and working a variety of jobs – including three years in a job training program – Alex decided he wanted a career. He worked as a before- and after-care instructor at a local school, and it was there that his career in education was born.
“It amazed me that I could connect with children and be a role model. I needed to do something with this, and run with it. I wanted to keep being a positive influence,” he says.
He enrolled at Meramec Community College, and later at UMSL. Now, in this last semester, he is back where he started his education more than two decades ago – at Miriam.
“Miriam has honestly been the gift that keeps on giving. I look back at my educational path, and this is where I started,” Alex says. “It’s very near and dear to my family and me. Miriam helped me get to a good level of understanding myself, academically and socially.”
This semester, he has helped primarily in two classrooms – creating and teaching lessons in science for Room 3 and in social studies for Room 6. The teachers have been very supportive, Alex says, and he has felt included in each step of the teaching process.
“Mr. Alex has been an integral part of our classroom this first semester,” says Ellen Burke, Room 3 teacher. He has done an excellent job helping students with their writing skills. In science, he has shared his love of bird watching with us. He has a vast knowledge of history and events that he shares with us. He is always there to help when needed, whether it is on the playground, reading a book to a student, or tying someone’s shoe. Mr. Alex is the best!”
Alex says this teaching experience has been both interesting and rewarding. “One of my favorite parts is working with a variety of students, which helps me be aware of how differently we all learn and grow.”
He describes the role of teaching assistant as his “dream job,” explaining that while his degree doesn’t certify him to be a classroom teacher, he can’t imagine working in an office. He wants to continue teaching and inspiring children.
Alex started at Miriam in kindergarten, and he was a member of the school’s first eighth-grade class. He considers himself very fortunate to have been able to spend so many years at Miriam. Alex was diagnosed with multiple challenges, including reading and math disabilities, speech delay, ADD and fine motor delays. He says most of those challenges have dissipated as he has aged.
One of the most rewarding parts of his time at Miriam, Alex says, was his role as Safety Patrol Captain during the 2001-2002 school year. He gained valuable leadership skills and learned how to lead by example.
“Every day at Miriam was a good day to learn how to grow as a person, but also as a learner. Every teacher recognized that we had the potential to be our best selves if we put in the effort.”