Norfolk Academy has concluded a nearly year-long search for a new Lower School Director with the appointment of Mrs. Michelle P. Alexander, who is currently Head of Lower School at Cannon School, an independent school of about 1,000 students in Charlotte, N.C.
Mrs. Alexander succeeds Mrs. Patty McLaughlin, who has chosen to retire at the end of this school year after a decade of extraordinary service to our school. Mrs. Alexander emerged as the overwhelming and unanimous choice in a very strong, international field of candidates—the most qualified, professionally accomplished, charismatic, inspirational, and effective educator to provide the next generation of leadership for the Lower School.
For the past nine years, Mrs. Alexander has served as Head of Lower School at Cannon School, an independent school of about 1,000 students (Junior Kindergarten-12) just outside Charlotte, North Carolina. Mrs. Alexander has overseen all aspects of the Lower School, including curriculum and faculty development; character education initiatives; faculty recruitment; and admissions. Her approach to education focuses on creating a joyful learning environment, helping students forge strong relationships with teachers and peers, and helping students discover the spirit of exploration, as they embrace challenges and push their own limits. In her tenure at Cannon, and throughout her career as an administrator and teacher, Mrs. Alexander also has been a leader in developing and advancing diversity initiatives.
A native of Baltimore, Mrs. Alexander attended one of the leading independent day schools there, Roland Park Country School. She earned a B.A. with honors from Middlebury College, one of the top liberal arts colleges in the nation, graduating with a double major in Russian and psychology. She holds an M.Ed. from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She began her career in education as a fourth grade teacher at Roland Park Country School. She then moved to Cincinnati, where she spent four years at The Seven Hills School, an independent school serving 1,000 students (PreK-12). She taught history to juniors and seniors in high school and served as the Director of Diversity Programs and Community Outreach.
In her journey as a teacher and leader in three distinctive schools, Mrs. Alexander has honed abilities which made her the perfect choice to lead the Lower School. Reflections from some of the constituents who interacted with Mrs. Alexander underscored her fit with Norfolk Academy’s unique mission: her appreciation of character, leadership, and the power of human relationships; an intense interest in curricular and technological innovation and ability to lead in these areas; a lively sense of humor and a self-effacing manner; and an exceptional role model and example of excellence in academics and the arts.
Mrs. Alexander’s husband, Raymond, is a native of Chesapeake and, like her, a lifelong educator. The Alexanders and their four children are excited about joining the Academy family, and Norfolk Academy is ready to give them a big Bulldog welcome!