Imagine that you’re 18 again. Your life is ahead of you, the sky’s the limit and independence is within your grasp. Now imagine getting a call from your high school sweetheart, and she’s pregnant.
For Wellington veteran and radio host Edward Alexander, it was senior year.
A similar situation had befallen many of his peers, yet the teenaged Alexander found his contemporaries dropping the ball on their responsibilities. He was determined to have a different story.
“I just knew that I couldn’t be one of those guys,” said Alexander, now 50 years old. “So immediately, when I found out that I was going to be a dad, I went straight to the recruiter, because I needed some avenue that was going to take care of me, medically, and insurance-wise.”
Within a four-month timeframe, Alexander graduated high school, got married, had a son and joined the U.S. Army.
Juggling raising a family with Army duties and full-time night classes at Austin Peay State University in Tennessee, Alexander had to leave his additional role as a Division 1 player on the school’s basketball practice team to serve his country in the Gulf War.
Since this time, Alexander has held multiple positions. Along with being a father of four, he has been a school security monitor, a basketball coach, and a DJ for a South Florida R&B station, the NFL’s former Oakland Raiders and the 90s hip-hop band TLC.
According to Alexander, however, he was a soldier first.
“I just recently retired from 30 years of service in the military,” Alexander said. “So, in 30 years, I’ve been to five different conflicts — five different wars.”
Alexander’s three decades of military service took him through the Gulf War, Desert Shield and Desert Storm, as well as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s not to mention time in Kosovo and Somalia.
It was for this very reason, Alexander explained, that now serving as the police aide at Palm Beach Central High School — and previously at John I. Leonard High School — is less daunting a job for him than some might guess.
“I don’t take my responsibilities lightly, but from my previous experiences, this is not as stressful,” Alexander said. “So, I kind of adapted to this one pretty easily.”
While the police aide isn’t an official officer, he tends to be the first line of defense for the school.
“Every high school campus has one or two resource officers. They’re provided by the district,” Alexander said. “Well, they can’t be everywhere at every time, so they have an employee, which is the aide.”
Alexander compared the job to a classroom setting, where there are teachers and paraprofessionals, often called teacher’s aides. The aide is not the teacher, but he or she has similar responsibilities.
“I’m more of a stationary entity,” Alexander said. “Everyone who comes on the campus has to go by me. And so, I initially check what their business is, find out what they’re trying to do and then obtain their identification.”
As he worked as a military police sergeant during his time in the service, Alexander has experience doing this.
“In every conflict, the job was different, the mission was different, and then whenever we’re not in conflict, the daily duties are different,” Alexander recalled. “So, I can just basically say in a nutshell, everything that a traditional civilian police officer would do, for the most part, I was responsible for the same things, but just in the military environment.”
With such a varied background in security and defense, one might think Alexander would typically stick to corresponding jobs. But as much as he appreciates his military background, he has never lost his passion for coaching and entertainment.
He currently also works as a weekend radio station host at local hip-hop station YO! 107.1.
As a matter of fact, he believes his Army history played a role in setting him apart in the entertainment business. Working as a DJ for the Raiders while also serving in the Army, Alexander made connections in the entertainment industry, and he was made aware that TLC was looking for a DJ.
“I auditioned by way of sending in a tape and a video of me DJing, and they liked it,” Alexander recalled. “And I think part of what kind of helped me was my military background. When you think about music, there’s this old cliché of sex, drugs and rock and roll. But because I was a military guy, the perception is clean cut, drug free and responsible — that attracted them.”
Alexander goes by the name “DJ Newmark,” a play on the “Numark” brand of audio equipment.
“It’s not the top of the line; it’s a little bit better than entry level,” Alexander said. “DJ equipment is pretty expensive, so I saved and saved and saved to get some equipment that was kind of reputable, and Numark was the brand. It’s my way of paying homage to my beginnings.”
But to many, DJ Newmark is known simply as “Coach A.” You see, he is also currently the assistant girls varsity basketball coach at Palm Beach Central High School, and was previously the boys JV basketball coach at John I. Leonard. With the military behind him, Alexander hopes to focus on his coaching and entertainment hobbies.
Alexander said he’d love to resume his work with TLC, but the pandemic has left him with a lot of uncertainty. “I miss being with famous people, and then [being able to] step away, and be just me,” Alexander said. “That’s one of the beautiful things about being a DJ. While I’m at work, I’m famous. When I’m not, it’s just me.”
In the meantime, Alexander plans to continue on his current path of working, coaching, fatherhood and marriage to his second wife, Maria. His advice to anyone looking to pursue their goals, as he did, is to “take no time for granted.”
“Come up with a plan of what it is you want to do in life. Try to find a path and integrate that task into your objective of what it is you want to do,” Alexander said. “And then think things out… And then go for that. That’s pretty much what my life has been like.”
If you would like to hear more from Edward Alexander, you can tune in to 107.1 every weekend from 3 to 9 p.m.