Staff Highlight: Anita Alexander
From the journal of: Anita Alexander
Position: HR Benefits Coordinator
Years in the Agora family: Seven
Home base: Lansdale, PA
Anita points to her seven years running track and field as a pivotal influence in an approach to career and life that she continues to this day. As a teenager, running taught her to never settle for anything or accept being mediocre. The lessons of competition, plus mentorship from her track coach, created in Anita a devotion to always strive to do her best, to be her best, and to allow her best to support others. In her job, relationships, and life as a wife and mother, this mantra paves the way. Other influences came much later in life, when Anita—who was already working at Agora and established in her adult life—considered going back to school. Her husband and son, fully confident in Anita, encouraged her to go for her four-year degree, and supported her throughout the journey. Anita’s return to school demonstrates her commitment to always striving to improve.
“People wonder why I went to school if I didn’t need the degree to work at Agora,” said Anita. “It’s true I had the experience, but getting my degree was an accomplishment and source of pride. The educational piece is huge for me, and to be able to refer to in my day to day. Yes, it was scary. But, I did it. I conquered it and was excited.”
One final and significant influence is something that those who know Anita will say she was born with. And this is an innate ability, and desire, to ensure people feel they are important—that they realize they are needed. This mission was nurtured by her mother’s love and really flourished when Anita became a “big sister” through the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. This is a huge factor in Anita’s model of caring for others, no matter who they are, what they do, or where they are in life, she helps them embrace how valuable they are.
The journey to Agora
A dedicated employee who has been working since age 14, Anita graduated high school and immediately gained employment with a financial institution. Having enhanced her education at her high school’s business academy, at her first job she found herself working in the payroll department before growing into an HR position. She began to realize that HR was more than just managing employees. She understood the critical role she would play in ensuring all employees had what they needed to be productive at the job—including their health, safety, happiness, and financial security—and confident in their life. When her employer closed the company in 2016, she had a ton of experience, and an open road ahead of her. At age 50 Anita began taking classes to get her degree in business management and certification in HR, which she achieved in 2020. Shortly after she started taking classes Anita applied for a payroll position at Agora. Given her depth of experience, an Agora official encouraged her to apply for an opening in HR instead.
“I didn’t have a clue about cyber charter schools when I applied, but my children went to brick-and-mortar charter schools and I loved the thought of working for a cyber charter. It also helped that in school I wrote a paper on alternative education, which included me interviewing our CEO at the time. The more I learned about Agora, the more excited I became about being part of the support system for the children that need this kind of education. I knew at Agora, I was somewhere making a difference for people who really need it.”
Being the difference
The difference Anita makes at Agora—to our faculty, students, and families—can be summed up in her very short, but powerful promise, “Nobody can out-care me!” This goes back to the early influences that motivate her every day to ensure that every person she interacts with and is responsible for feels valued, important, and needed.
“I want anyone who comes in contact with me to feel like they’re loved and needed. I make sure our staff and students know we’re glad to have them here. There’s something about people feeling rejected and abandoned that gets under my skin, so my role in life is to ensure no one experiences that feeling.”
Anita also works hard to change the perception of an HR professional—with her first strategy being to demonstrate through her own example exactly what HR is all about.
“Lots of people think HR is only aligned with management. I want them to know that I am a safe space. I am big on helping people. Whether it’s handling benefits, maintaining and monitoring HR topics, assisting with a leave of absence, handling retirement or PSERS—I help Agora employees when they need it. This gives me great satisfaction. I love my job!”
The next chapter
Although some at her age are thinking about retirement, Anita isn’t! Instead, she continues to pursue her drive to learn and continuously redefine her “best self” so that she can better support the Agora community and help it to evolve. In the spring of 2023, Anita participated in an inclusion webinar, and is constantly reading and attending seminars to make sure she is relevant and ready to provide the excellent care that defines her.
“Things are always evolving and changing, so I like to keep myself up to date and relevant in everything! I will always have something going so I can be relatable to the school and people depending on me for support.”
Agora is extremely grateful for the passion Anita shows as she cares for more than 650 Agora employees. By looking after their needs on the job and in the life that job is part of, she frees them to do what they do best—educate, inspire, and nurture our students. Anita is one of the many people that make everything “click” and keeps Agora humming!