I call myself a learner first and an educator second. To do this work well, you have to be constantly learning and getting better. You can’t be complacent.
I didn’t always know I’d end up being an educator. My father came to this country from Iraq, and his hope always was for me to be a doctor like him. I even got as far as completing a pre-med program after college. But I knew from my sophomore year at Boston College that I really wanted to be an educator. Even when I looked into a medical career, I realized I was focusing on equitable access to things like healthcare and a great education.
After graduating from BC with a history degree, I taught in Las Vegas for three years. Even after returning to school at Georgetown to prepare for medical school, I couldn’t shake the purpose I found as an educator. This led to me to my role as a coach at Teach For America in Houston. I remember walking into KIPP Houston High School for the first time to coach corps members. It was one of the happiest high schools I had ever visited. The bar of academic excellence was clear and high, and everyone—teachers, leaders, and staff—seemed so committed to the work they were doing. I didn’t want to leave.
I had the chance to join the KIPP Houston High School team as an assistant principal, and participated in the Miles Family Fellowship last year. A key part of the fellowship was the constant push to answer three key questions: Why now? Why here? Why me? If you’re able to successfully, confidently answer those questions, then you are in a position to excel in school leadership.
Through the Miles Fellowship, I was able to reflect on my own track record as an assistant principal, what worked and what didn’t, and I’m continuing that reflection process as I design our newest high school. The Fisher Fellowship provides a long runway for growth and development – a luxury many school leaders don’t have. I am confident that the team at our new school will be able get it right for our ninth graders in year one.
My own growth won’t stop when our school doors open. As school leader, I know it is critical that our team of teachers and leaders model the commitment to learning we want to see in our students.