New Assistant Director’s arrival marks a Westchester homecoming
Dr. Alexandria Connally brings diverse experience and a passion for children to the role
Dr. Alexandria Connally brings a coach’s ethos to her new role as Southern Westchester BOCES’ Assistant Director of Special Services.
Once a three-sport athlete at Roosevelt High School in Yonkers, she learned early on to appreciate the ways that a coach could help players to succeed. Coaches know their players’ limitations as well as their potential for success.
As an educator, Dr. Connally says, she’s pretty much a coach herself.
“What my coaching style looks like is helping people get from point A to point B, giving them all the support they need and also holding them accountable,” she said during a conversation in her new office on the Rye Lake Campus, where she arrived just a week earlier.
Dr. Connally fills the role vacated by Jessica Walker, who was appointed just two months earlier to the role of Director of Special Services. Together they form a student-focused leadership team in support of teachers and administrators at a half-dozen program locations across Southern Westchester.
“Alexandria brings an incredibly diverse range of knowledge and experience from working with students of all abilities and backgrounds, and her empathy and track record of success will be invaluable to our programs,” Ms. Walker said.
The two hit it off immediately. Dr. Connally was impressed when Ms. Walker greeted her personally when she arrived to interview for the position.
She comes most recently from the Nyack School District in Rockland County, where she was the inaugural Director of Equity. In that role, she worked with school-level and student-led equity teams, supported the Board of Education on equity policy and developed an equity action plan with the superintendent.
Earlier in her career, she was an Assistant Principal at School 29 in her hometown of Yonkers, where half of all students had Individual Education Plans. “It’s like a little tiny BOCES,” she said. She later held the same role at Yonkers Middle-High School, focusing on building culture and community. When she made the case for more of her middle school students to attend the International Baccalaureate program there, she was assigned to move up with them.
Dr. Connally started out as a Teaching Assistant at the Andrus Children’s Center, one of the hardest but best jobs she says she ever had because of all she learned.
Her latest role is a homecoming for the Yonkers-born educator, a big plus for someone with deep community connections on this side of the river. She is president of the Westchester County Youth Board and works closely with Nonprofit Westchester.
She was attracted to Southern Westchester BOCES for the opportunity it offered to further her professional growth while leveraging her experience.
“It was the ability to help me grow my leadership skills and learn in some different areas while being able to bring my expertise in special education and working with this population,” she said. “I thought it was a win-win.”
An intern for six years to Chancellor Betty Rosa, who is now the state Education Commissioner, Dr. Connally was also an assistant to the late Judith Johson, a renowned schools superintendent who served on the state Board of Regents. She currently serves as an assistant to Regent Francis Wills
Her office is adorned with photos of family and friends. By her desk is a small plaque that sums up her educational philosophy. It reads, ““The teachers who love teaching teach students who love learning.”
“When students know that you care,” Dr. Connally said, “they’ll do anything for you.”