Behind every successful Kids Alive program is a dedicated staff member committed to serving children. Many children in our programs come from at-risk situations with a history of abuse, neglect, and other situations causing trauma. Ministering to them holistically – addressing their physical, emotional, spiritual and other needs, requires having psychologists on staff at Kids Alive schools. This past school year, we hired Alexandra as our new psychologist, and she's been a great blessing to the students and staff. She works closely with students who need help with behavioral issues as well as focusing on their studies. Alexandra is one of the school’s Trauma Competent Caregiving Champions. Cory Pisano, Service Team Host and Sponsorship Coordinator for Park School, spoke with Alexandra recently.
Cory Pisano (CP): Tell me a little about yourself.
Alexandra: My name is Alexandra Ortiz. I was born in Cantabria, Puerto Plata. My father is Dominican, and my mother was born in Haiti. My mother returned to Haiti when I was one year old, so I don’t know her at all.
I am a licensed psychologist. I studied psychology in Puerto Plata at Universidad Tecnologica de Santiago. I have been married for two years and have a one-year-old son.
CP: What started your interest in psychology?
Alexandra: I’ve always had an interest in science and dreamed of working for NASA in the United States. However, I knew that was very difficult, so when I entered university and was exploring career options, I fell in love with psychology because of its universal importance to life in general.
CP: What does a typical school day look like for you?
Alexandra: Realistically there isn’t a normal day at the school; however, my role at the school involves a lot of observation in the classrooms. I observe the students and how they interact with one another to get to know their behaviors. I work closely with the principal of the school, and when there are conflicts between students that require further deeper investigation to resolve, I work with them one on one. I also work with family members to understand how these specific students act at home so I can help them with their behavior.
CP: What is your favorite part of this job? What has been the biggest blessing?
Alexandra: My favorite part of the job is when a student who has trouble learning or is struggling with personal issues comes to me for guidance and help. I’m able to understand them, encourage them, and help them be more successful in the classroom. Seeing them succeed and realize their potential is the greatest blessing.
CP: How has this transformed your life? Have you seen any transformation in kids?
Alexandra: Being in this position has had a major effect on my life. The trauma competent caregiving training that we received as a school staff allowed me to understand events from my past in a different way that brought me so much clarity. Also, being a mother has changed the way I interact with my son as well. A child who I have seen transformed is Abigail*. This past year I worked closely with Abigail, who is almost completely blind. I taught her how to read Braille, which will allow her to learn and succeed so much more in the future.
CP: What are your goals for this school year?
Alexandra: One goal I have for this year is for more students to have an improved ability to learn in the classroom. Another goal is that everything that we talk about emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually will allow them to make better decisions in their future.
*Name changed to protect privacy