Meet Michael Alford: New Student Services Specialist
September 3, 2019
Wendie Burbridge (C.R.E.W)
(HCS) - Most of us don’t really think about student attendance during our day, but new Student Services Specialist Michael Jarvis Alford definitely has that important educational element top-of-mind at all times.
While new to Hoover City Schools’ Student Services Department, Alford is a long-time educator with a broad range of experiences, now culminating in the all-important attendance and enrollment spheres.
In this new role, Alford oversees all attendance issues for the district and is responsible for any truancy cases that cycle through local courts. He will work with students and parents to find support avenues as they work to resolve attendance and enrollment issues.
“We all know that attendance has so many contributing factors to the success of children, there are so many benefits to a child being in school,” Alford said. “I’ll be supporting students and their families in order to access all the preventative measures before anything hits truancy court.”
One of the many gifts that Alford brings to Hoover, along with leadership skills, is his ability to build rapport with students and families, according to Dr. Bob Lawry - Alford’s supervisor.
“We deal with a lot of situations where it can be extremely confrontational, and a skillful person does not let it get confrontational and (Mr. Alford has) the demeanor for that. That’s the bulk of his job; we can teach the content but we can’t teach you how to work with people. His people skills are off the charts incredible,” Lawry said.
Alford has been with Hoover City Schools since 2017. That’s when he accepted a 5th-grade language arts teaching position at Brock’s Gap Intermediate School. His educational career, however, began as a Kindergarten teacher in Tuscaloosa City Schools. He says through that experience he “...fell in love with the process of early learning.” He focused on building relationships with students in order for them to see him not only as their teacher - but also an individual in whom they could trust and confide.
During Alford’s six years as a kindergarten teacher, he began working on his administrative certification and began serving on the leadership team at his school. From the start, he knew he wanted to learn more about leading teachers and helping the schools in which he worked to move forward. He shadowed his principal on various administrative duties and ultimately was asked to become an Instructional Coach.
“If someone seeks you out because they think that highly of you, it’s hard to say no,” Alford said.
One of his proudest moments was he was part of a team that applied for a school improvement grant, allowing Alford a chance to become the school’s Turn-Around Administrator. This grant opened many doors for this school: the funding of after-school programs, professional learning for faculty/staff, and the addition of positions to support teaching and learning. After two years, the school was moved off of Alabama’s school improvement list.
Alford eventually became an assistant principal at Holt High School, also in Tuscaloosa; his first major foray into secondary education.
“One of the things I believe professionally for myself is that I want to be diverse in the area of education. I do not want to tailor myself just to elementary, or just to instruction, just to management-- I want to have a wide knowledge of education as a whole.”
Alford and his wife Keneisha have two sons, D.Q. and Brayden.