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Remembering Pauline Alexander


Remarks from Kate Lavik at the OSPA 2013 Spring Conference:

Good afternoon, everyone. I am here today to speak to you about Pauline Alexander. Pauline was a founding member of the National Association of School Psychologists and its first President. She was President of the Ohio School Psychologists Association in 1967. She passed away recently and we would like to take a few moments to remember the contributions that she made to the field of school psychology. Here with me is Nadine Block (another famous name in school psychology), winner of the Clyde V. Bartlett Distinguished Service Award in 1991, our previous Director of Legislative Services and Professional Relations, and Polly’s friend and colleague.

Remarks from Nadine Block

I knew Polly well. Support for Talented Students began in 1983 to provide scholarships for special opportunities outside of the regular school day for gifted and talented children whose parents could not afford them. It was a natural extension of what Carolyn Fleming, a gifted coordinator, and Polly Alexander, a school psychologist, were already doing in Delaware City Schools. They would come across children whose needs could not be met by existing school programs and found friends and organizations to sponsor them for programs in music and art instruction, science and math enrichment, drama workshops and for summer camps like the United States Space Camp. To extend the program outside of Delaware City Schools, serve more children, and make contributions tax-deductible, they and a couple of friends (I was one of them) began Support for Talented Students, a 501(c) 3 organization. School psychologists, counselors and gifted coordinators were trained in the grant procedures and a steady stream of applicants began seeking scholarships. Some have become professional musicians, artists and actors. Many have gone on to academic success. Most write STS to tell of the wonderful experience of being chosen to be supported in their dreams, the special feeling that comes from being acknowledged for hard work and talent.

Polly was the “driver” in those early years, ever optimistic that the organization would be successful and that many children would benefit from its work. “Bright kids can be born to coal miners as well as bank presidents,” Polly said in the newsletter STS FOCUS, in the summer of 1986. Many children have benefited from Polly’s work. Over a quarter of a million Ohio children have been served by STS since 1983. Current chair of STS: George Fichter who served as a state educational consultant, for Programs for Gifted; July 1975 - December 1987.

And finally, I would like to read a story that was shared by Alex Thomas: “A vignette from Polly, an indomitable spirit who I came to know when I was in the second inning and she was in the ninth of our careers. She and Nadine Block had started an initiative (in 79 or 80, I believe) to pro- vide support and/or services and/or some-thing for gifted students in the Columbus area and lobbied me as brand new Ohio NASP delegate (1980 or so) to get NASP to create an umbrella 501(c)(3) where such initiatives for kids could receive tax exempt contribution status. As brand new delegate to the BIG NASP I was reluctant to go down that path but having Polly advocate in front of you quickly dissipated my concerns. She was not intimidating but fervent and usually correct. My first motion in NASP governance, in my recollection, was for the creation of such an umbrella group which eventually became what is now the Children’s Fund. The circuitry was not as direct but one thing is sure, without her initial advocacy, insistence, and spirit, the Children’s Fund or some type of NASP 501(c)(3) would likely have been created years later.”

Thank you all for your attention. Let’s all hope to keep Polly’s memory alive and strive to make an impact in the lives of children, as Polly did.

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