Greg Alexander: ‘I’ve been groomed to get to this place’

Greg Alexander stops and helps strangers with roadside flat tires.

He opens his home to friends and family, and plenty of food and drinks are always on hand. (Greg’s wife Lara calls theirs the Kool-Aid House.)

He has taken his family on three overseas missionary trips to help build worship facilities.

Alexander works hard every day to be a positive role model — to his children, students, strangers and now to Garden Valley residents.

He is taking over as Garden Valley School District superintendent and looking forward to becoming a part of the close-knit, rural community and helping children succeed in school.

“I try and behave as though my life is always on display and you may not know who’s watching you,” said Alexander, who regularly picks up garbage around schools and their parking lots. “I’m excited about this job and I’m nervous about doing a good job for them.”

“I’ve been groomed to get to this place”

Alexander family in Garden Valley
A family photo of the Alexanders just after he learned he’d landed the job as Garden Valley’s superintendent.

Alexander was raised in Idaho and was a top football player and wrestler for Boise High School before graduating in 1987.

He accepted a football scholarship to play for his hometown Boise State Broncos — and brags he was coach Skip Hall’s first recruit. He married his college sweetheart during his junior year.

“It was so special to share to football seasons with a wife,” Alexander said. “We were able to plan our future and think about education.”

Lara worked so Greg could earn degrees in math, business and secondary education. He later earned a master’s degree and is working on an education specialist degree, required of superintendents.

“I had awesome teachers growing up and I always wanted to be like them,” Greg said. “I never thought of another career besides teaching.”

Greg and Lara settled in the Treasure Valley and raised three children — Clarissa, Zachary and Emily.

Lara was able to be a stay-at-home mom because Greg taught, coached a variety of sports and earned extra money over the summers working in construction, building fences or teaching driver’s education.

“He’s full of integrity,” said Lara, his wife of 25 years. “I’m so proud of everything he’s done. I feel so blessed.”

Greg taught in Boise schools before taking administrative positions at Cole Valley Christian and in the Caldwell School District. While he was principal at Caldwell’s Sacajawea Elementary, the school earned the state’s Distinguished Award, given to schools that show large growth in student achievement.

In 2012, Tom Luna hired Alexander to work as the State Department of Education’s director of school improvement and support. New Superintendent Sherri Ybarra eliminated his job in May.

“I put my neck out there,” Alexander said of his experience with the new administration. “My life is not about fitting in, it’s about doing what’s right. There are mountains you’re willing to die on, and that was one of them.”

Three days after his dismissal, Garden Valley trustees hired Alexander from a field of four finalists. He’ll be the district’s fourth superintendent in five years.

Alexander will be following his mentor, Randy Schrader, Garden Valley’s superintendent for three years. Schrader, who also played football for Boise State, hired Alexander in Caldwell where they worked side-by-side in administration. When Alexander heard he was hired in Garden Valley, his first phone call was to Schrader.

“Greg loves people and serving — he understands and lives by servant leadership,” Schrader said. “In a small community that is important because you get to know most people pretty quickly.”

Family, faith and relationships

Alexander said he is most proud of his family, followed by his faith and the relationships he’s built as an educator. The Alexanders spend a lot of time together, including weekend trips to a family cabin in Lowman, holidays and vacations.

They went as a family to missionary expeditions in Ukraine and Guatemala. They spent weeks at a time in remote parts of the world remodeling camp facilities and a church. He joined the faith-based organization Young Life as a teenager. He has stayed devoted to the organization and his children have since embraced the lifestyle.

“My family always goes together because we can share experiences and change and grow together,” he said. “Really cool times.”

Alexander is close to Rodd Ritchie, his pastor of 25 years. They are so close Ritchie named his son, Alex, after the Alexanders.

“He’s always looking for ways to help people,” Ritchie said. “He really cares  — plain and simple. His greatest gift is his ability to have a positive influence on people and, of course, kids.”

 A new life ahead in rural Idaho

The Alexanders’ oldest daughter Clarissa just graduated from BSU, explored Iceland and will start a career as an athletic trainer. Zachary Alexander is traveling and volunteering for Young Life this summer.

Their youngest daughter, Emily, will be a senior at Centennial High School, and her parents hope she’ll join them in Garden Valley and experience the features of small-town life. When Alexander took the position, he promised he’d move to Garden Valley and make the rural community his permanent home.

His Meridian house — where he’s raised three children and cared for many of their friends  — is on the market. He’s looking for a place on multiple acres in Garden Valley, close enough he can ride his bike to work.

“I want to be the person they say has been around for a long time,” he said. “My wife and I are both excited to make this our home.”

Alexander wants to barbecue hot dogs during football games and he wants to start a father-daughter dance night. Lara wants to chaperone for prom or work concessions at games.

“We love the realness of the people there,” Greg said. “They are really getting a lot in this package.”

Lara said: “My heart swells when we drive into that valley. I can’t wait.”

Clarissa Alexander graduation
A family photo of the Alexanders after Clarissa’s Boise State graduation.