"Those goals have also helped them to be more successful as students.”
It's inspiring to Michelle Alexander that each of her students can personally benefit from each of her lessons as soon as they walk out of her class that day. As a health educator, she teaches students time management, the importance of getting enough sleep, healthy eating and regular exercise; information that all students can benefit from. When she began taking Health Sciences courses as an undergraduate at James Madison University, Alexander was considering a career as either a physical therapist or an occupational therapist. Her focus shifted when she joined a Peer Health Education group on campus and developed a passion for teaching others how to make healthy decisions. Alexander earned bachelor's degree in Health Science, a master's degree in Public Health, and is a Certified Health Education Specialist through the National Commission on Health Education.
Before coming to Virginia Peninsula, Alexander was a Health Educator at the College of William & Mary, then served as the Health Education Specialist in the Williamsburg-James City County school system. Since 2010, Alexander has taught courses in Personal and Community Health, Principles of Nutrition and Human Development, Human Sexuality, First Aid, and Stress Management at Virginia Peninsula. One of the nutrition courses she teaches is a requirement of the Nursing program, so almost 99 percent of the students Alexander sees in that class are preparing for a nursing career.
As a way to make the topics she teaches "real" for her students, Alexander asks them to set goals for their personal wellness at the beginning of each semester.
"I love the moments, at the end of the semester, when they share how working in those goals helped them to not only improve some aspect of their health, but how those goals have also helped them to be more successful as students," she says.