Alteasha Ervin

MA, Program Director, PHILLIPS School ~ Fairfax

The eldest of four children in a family where young parents worked long hours as tax preparers, Alteasha stepped into the role of nurturing caregiver as soon as she was able.  At fourteen, her youngest brother was born and she remembers finding ways to ensure that the children all got to school on time by setting alarm clocks and setting out clothing the night before.  Growing up in a very close knit family with her paternal grandmother living only 20 minutes away, Alteasha was infused with a tendency towards nurturing, love and feeling protective of her siblings and later any tender young person who came into her circle. 

She loved to volunteer for Best Buddies and at the age of 15 a cousin was born with sickle cell anemia and had a stroke at the age of three paralyzing the left side of her body and brain. 

After graduating from college with a BA in Psychology she was hired to teach world history to ninth graders.  The work was fine but left her empty because the students did not need her.  Anyone could perform the work needed.  She decided to study for the LSATs and apply to law school.

Alteasha moved to Washington, DC which was electrified with promise immediately following the election of President Obama.  He was calling people to service and she was looking for a job.  An ad for PHILLIPS came up during her job search and she applied.  She was not really aware of special education and all that it entailed.  Suddenly she was immersed in an institution that fed her soul.  The youth at PHILLIPS needed so much.  Alteasha had found her calling.  

Every month she would ask her mom to send her money.  One day her mom asked why she needed extra money since she had a good full-time job.  It was because Alteasha’s students needed so many things.  Mom jumped on the bandwagon and started sending a monthly check without asking.  A fabulous baker she also started sending boxes full of her mouthwatering baked goods.

Alteasha was also staff for our home-based services.  She got to know parents who were not able to attend family functions because baby sitters were ill equipped to manage their child’s behaviors effectively, and the behaviors were a barrier to the child attending the events.  Alteasha would schedule sessions to accommodate the parents so that at least one could attend a family wedding or birthday party while Alteasha was providing ABA therapy in the home.  Where does Alteasha derive her well of compassion?  It was from her parents who would move heaven and earth for her and her siblings.  Because of them she wants to do the same for the youth she serves.  Her grandmother taught her many great lessons.  She often would say “Be careful what you do, more is caught than is taught.”  She also exposed Alteasha to so much culture – she was always taking them to the ballet, book fairs, and the theatre.  Alteasha fondly remembers attending The Color Purple and Lion King on Broadway.  Her grandmother always said that exposure changes the world.  Alteasha derives great joy when her students are able to visit restaurants (often for the first time), take baked goods and holiday cards to the Alzheimer’s patients at a nearby nursing home, or participate in education for employment opportunities – all broadening their knowledge.

In 2016 PHILLIPS acquired the Fairfax campus and Alteasha became Program Director.  She received her BS in Psychology from Florida State, a Masters in Special Education from Phoenix University and is working on her Ed.S. in Education Leadership at Old Dominion University.

When not at work Alteasha devours novels and books that illustrate important life lessons, spends as much time as possible traveling, attending shows and dining out.