A HISTORY OF ALEXANDER SCHOOLS, INC.                              Taken from A History of Alexander Schools, Inc. – The First Fifty Years – 1925- 1975

1965-1975 – The Fifth Decade

In the spring of 1964 Mr. Vogler was granted by the Board of Directors a requested Sabbatical Leave of Absence for one year.  Mr. Vogler and his family spent that year in Juneau, Alaska, where he served as Supt. of Schools.  During this period, Mr. T. J. Edwards served as acting Superintendent and Principal of ASI.  In the early summer of 1965, Mr. Vogler returned to the school to resume his duties.

The year of 1965 saw many changes in staff members and teachers at the school.  Miss Alma Jolly, Business Manager and teacher, was replaced by Mrs. Dorothy Young; Mrs. Naomi Edwards, Secretary and Librarian, was replaced by Mrs. Azylee White as secretary and by Mrs. Arville Cornette as Librarian;  Mr. T. J. Edwards resigned to become Driver Education Director for the Rutherford County Board of Education;  Mr. Horace Whisnant joined the school as a teacher of Math and Science;  Mr. B. D. Bagnall resigned as Athletics Coach and Dean of Girls, being replaced as coach by Mr. Arville Cornette, who also served as a History teacher;  Mrs. B. D. Bagnall resigned her position as 1st Grade teacher, being replace by Mrs. Rilla Edwards.

One of the more significant events in the history of ASI occurred in the summer of 1965 when, for the first time, a Negro was enrolled as an institutional student.  Since that time, the number of students from racial minorities has continually increased, such that today ASI operates as a fully integrated school.

The 1965-66 school year began with 149 boarding students and 200 community students and ended with a graduating class of 22 students.  The 1966-67 school year saw a decrease in boarding students, down to 138, but an increase in the graduating class to 29 students.

In September, 1966, a Social Services Department was opened for the first time at the school.  This department was headed by Miss Amy Carter.

During the year of 1966, the Vogler family had an international exchange student living in their home.  She was Maria Montoya and was the first of six such students since that time.  The visits of the students have been enjoyed by students and staff members, all of whom benefitted from this experiment in international relations.

In 1967, the Federal Government included orphanages for the first time in the Title I Program.  By virtue of the large number of orphans enrolled at ASI, the school was granted nearly $19,000.  With this money, a summer school for students was held, a recreational staff was hired, and a trip was provided for a large number of students to Expo 67 in Montreal, Canada.

In May, 1967, the Reverend and Mrs. Jim Jones resigned their positions as Director of College Life and Music teacher, respectively.  The Staff House where the Jones family had lived on campus was subsequently remodeled and used until 1972 as a dormitory for junior girls.

During 1967, Mr. R. E. Price died, leaving the school much the poorer for his death.  Mr. Price had been a long and true friend of the school, and had served for many years as a member of the Board of Directors.

The old Baby Cottage was torn down in 1968, being replaced as a new Junior Boys Cottage which was completed in 1969.  Mrs. Violet Shipley, housemother, and 13 junior boys moved in at this time to enjoy their new accommodations.  In memory of Mr. W. E. Sweatt, the Alumni Association gave a memorial donation of $1,778.75 to the cottage for the furnishing of the living room.

In a continuing effort to modernize the school’s physical plant, all dormitories and the dining hall had been converted by the end of 1969 from coal to oil heating systems, and, in the same year, the school’s sewer system was completely overhauled.  The conversion from coal, of course, eliminated what had once been something of a “tradition” and dubious pleasure through the years for the older boys – working on the coal truck to haul the coal from the railroad car to the furnace bins.

In the summer of 1969, the school sponsored a two-week day camp for retarded students in Rutherford County.  Each day, these students were brought by bus to the school where they did hand work and crafts, swam in the pool and ate lunch in the dining hall.  Some of the ASI students worked individually with these retarded students, giving much pleasure and benefit to both.  This program proved so successful that it has become a yearly activity on the campus.

In the summer of 1970, Mr. Vogler became Dr. Vogler, having been conferred with his Doctorate of Education from East Coast University of Dade City, Florida.  This notable achievement was to be matched three years later, in 1973, when Mrs. Vogler received her Doctorate in Education from the University of Sarasota, of Sarasota, Florida.  Thus when one refers to Dr. Vogler at ASI these days, it may be necessary to add “him” or “her” to clarify their reference.

Two teachers retired in 1970 and 1971 after long teaching careers at the school, being Miss Nita Koon of the third grade and Mrs. Irene Koon of the second grade, respectively.  A great majority of the alumni of ASI have undoubtedly been taught by these two teachers.

Fire protection finally came to Union Mills and to ASI in 1971 when the school joined with the citizens of Union Mills to establish a community Fire Department.  The school contributed $500 to the project, and staff members have served as members of this volunteer fire department.

A former pastor of Round Hill Baptist Church, the Reverend William F. Bowen, was employed in May, 1972, as Assistant to the Administrator and Director of Campus Life Activities.  Mrs. Bowen became a teacher of Special Education.  The School’s Staff House, which had served since 1967 as a Junior Girls Dormitory, was again remodeled to serve as a home for the Bowens.  When Mr. Bowen took on the added duties of Director of Social Services, the first floor apartment in the staff House was remodeled to house the Social Services Department.

The Social Services Department was further enlarged in 1972 with the hiring of two part-time social workers, Mrs. Ann Hawkins and Mrs. Katie Snyder.  Mrs. Snyder resigned in 1974 and was replaced by Mr. David Troy in January, 1975 as a full-time social worker.

In the summer of 1974, work began on the new student center, with the work finished and the building occupied by February, 1975.  The center has a large recreation room for student activities (TV, socials, games, etc.), a nice kitchen, dressing rooms and showers for use by the students when swimming, and living quarters for the Recreational Director and family.  The post of Recreational Director has been filled on a full-time basis by Mr. Kurt Kaltreider.

The United Appeal of Rutherford County included ASI in their budget for the first time in 1974, with the result that the school will receive $5000 in 1975 from this source.

After 30 years of teaching, Mr. V. T. Cooper retired as Agriculture teacher at the end of the 1974 school year, being replaced by Mr. John Bradley.  At that time the Agriculture Department was moved from the old shop building to newly remodeled classroom in the lower level of the Home Economics building.  As for Mr. Cooper, retirement has been somewhat elusive; for, as a substitute teacher, ASI and Central High School in Rutherfordton have claimed his time much of this past school year.

Mrs. Dennis Comer, Seventh Grade teacher since 1967, retired at the end of the 1975 school year. 

During the 1974-1975 school year, enrollment in the boarding school has averaged around 100 students, with a final graduating class of 15 students from the high school.  The State Department of Social Services wants to have fewer students in each dorm, with the result that the school enrollment would be still further reduced unless additional dorm space is acquired.  The graduating class of 1975-1976 will be the last class to graduate from ASI, for, beginning in the fall of 1976, the eleventh and twelfth grades will be sent to Central High School in Rutherfordton.

For the past three years, the Elementary School has been preparing to seek membership in the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges.  In this effort, considerable improvement has been effected in the school physical facilities (buildings painted, library remodeled and carpeted, equipment purchased, etc.), a full-time librarian has been hired, and the school program has been subjected to a thorough study by the faculty, with the finding published and submitted to the Association along with an official request for Accreditation.  On April 8-9, a team of educators from the Association visited the school pursuant to making recommendations concerning membership.  At the time of this writing, the association has not announced its decision, but, since all requirements set by the association have been met, it is expected that accreditation will be granted.

During the 1970’s, death claimed several staff members and teachers.  Among these was Mr. Howard “Teeter” Monteith, who died in February, 1970.  He had been the Maintenance Man and bus driver for many years and was known for his kindness, hard work, and loyalty to family and friends.  Others included Mrs. Elizabeth Collins, housekeeper in the Vogler home; Mrs. Montie Lindsay, Mrs. Gwen Cowart, and Mrs. Hattie Mikels, each of whom had been housemothers in the boys’ dorms; Mr. R. D. Gregg, night watchman; Mr. Mills Owens, long-time school custodian and bus driver; Mr. Russell Little, former student and dietician; and Mr. Rex Hargrove, former student, teacher and coach.  In November, 1973, Miss Mary Grigsby passed away.  She had given a large part of her life in service to the school, and had indelibly touched and influenced the lives of most of the students who passed through the school.


Alexander Schools continues today as it has through the past 50 years, which is to serve as a private, Christian, child-caring institution, providing shelter, love, guidance, and training for children.

The school now has a maximum campus enrollment of 120 students, plus serving community day students of about 160 in number.  The administration, faculty, and staff, headed by Dr. John Vogler, number about 35 persons.  The number of day students should decrease slightly beginning with the fall of 1976 when the eleventh and twelfth grades are to be transferred to Central High in Rutherfordton.

Physically, the school consists of 14 buildings situated on 37 acres, plus the swimming pool, tennis courts, and an athletics playing field.  Of these buildings, four are used as living quarters for students, consisting of the Junior Boys’ Cottage, the Boys’ Dormitory, the Meldona Livingston Cottage for intermediate and senior girls, and the D. J. Hunt Cottage for junior girls.  The boys’ facilities were built in 1969 and 1954 respectively, while the girls’ facilities were both built in 1948.  All four facilities are of fire-proof brick construction, are heated by oil-fired steam heat, and are modern in all respects.  The two cottages for the junior boys and girls are of single unit construction, while the Meldona Livingston Cottage is a duplex, and the Boys Dormitory consists of four separate, identical units.

Other living quarters are provided on campus by the Staff House, the Superintendent’s house, and the Student Recreation Center.  The Staff House presently houses the Reverend William F. Bowen and family, as well as containing the Social Services Department, of which Mr. Bowen is the director.  This structure was constructed in 1964 and has previously served as a home for the Reverend Jim Jones (who headed the first Social Services Department at the school) and later as a Junior Girls’ Cottage.  The Superintendents House was constructed in 1941, making it the second oldest building on campus.  This house first served as the home of Professor and Mrs. W. E. Sweatt, from their marriage in 1941 until after his tragic death in 1951.  It has served since 1951 as the home of Dr. John W. Vogler and family.  The Student Recreation Center was constructed in 1975, making it the newest building on campus.  While intended primarily for the recreational activities of the students, it also provides living quarters for Mr. Kurt Kaltrieider who has been hired as a full-time Recreational Director.  This center provides students with a large recreation room for student activities (TV, socials, games, etc.), a kitchen, and dressing rooms and showers for use by the students when swimming.

Other campus structures on campus include the main Administration Building which has served since 1946, and which is still one of the more modern school buildings in Rutherford County; the John W. Vogler Gymnasium, constructed in 1957; the Dining Hall, constructed in 1961 and Kitchen, constructed in 1950; the combined Home Economics Building, constructed in 1939 and which is the oldest building on campus, and Agriculture Building, constructed in 1974 as an extension of the ground floor of the Home Economics Building; the Shop Building, constructed about 1950; the old Cannery, built in 1942 and now used as a maintenance shop; and the Laundry, constructed about 1942.

All children resident at ASI today are assigned to a Social Case Worker.  Mr. Charles David Troy, a former ASI student and a graduate of Warren-Wilson College joined the staff of ASI to fill this post in May, 1975.

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