Ezehar Abu-hatab, a parent of two North Star Academy (NSA) students, shares her family’s experience with NSA and how much the school helped her son.
Our North Star Academy school is our family, and our community. What my son Jawad received from NSA is not just quality education. Jawad attended a school where educators ensured that he and all of the NSA scholars could reach their highest heights as intellectual human beings. NSA raised Jawad in a culture of kindness, courage, and accountability. As parents most of us look for safe and welcoming schools, but what we got is above and beyond that. Jawad received a personalized learning experience from his teachers that empowered him and showed him how to make failure the stepping stones to success. NSA understood that classrooms are full of different learners and so they ensured that teachers knew how to reach every student. NSA taught our son not to be afraid of hard work, commitment, or sacrifice.
Before coming to NSA, Jawad attended another public school in the community, one that had low expectations for students like Jawad, including that he would not finish high school. He also suffered from bullying and our family felt he was receiving only a mediocre education. Concerned, we tried to engage with school leaders to find solutions but we did receive a satisfactory response. Realizing that we were failing to protect our son physically, emotionally, and academically, my husband and I had to take matters into our hands. Jawad participated in baseball, football, martial arts, and boy scouts. All of these activities we hoped would help him develop his sense of self, discipline, and hard work. At home we focused on developing his English and math skills. However, the reality remained that we were not providing Jawad with an education that would prepare him for the challenges of life. My worry for my son was so intense that I began to have health problems and my health care providers said I was over stressed but I realized that no number of yoga classes or meditation would solve the issues we were facing with Jawad’s schooling. Finally hope came in 2011 when we realized we could apply for Jawad’s sister, Salma to attend NSA, a public charter school. As my husband said “they do things differently there” which is exactly what we were hoping for. Salma was admitted when the school held a lottery for admission and in December 2011 Jawad joined the NSA community as well.
The difference was like night and day. When Salma was enrolled, NSA did not wait for the fall to welcome her. They immediately embraced her and started to work with her. She had homework the whole summer. From the first week of kindergarten classes, she was learning things that Jawad (who was a third grader at that time) had never even heard of. Salma had homework every day, Jawad had no homework. He would ask me every day as we dropped his sister at NSA first, “When will I go to Salma’s school?” Our wishes were answered when Jawad became an NSA student in December of 2011. But the transition was not easy as he had not been well prepared with his past school experience, so much so that for the first two weeks he cried every night because the homework was hard.
When we realized that Salma was receiving a quality education by attending a school that brought her joy and excitement and encouraged her to learn and thrive, we knew we needed to make a change for her brother so he too could be successful. I never worried about Salma and her future because she started at NSA, but for Jawad, we worried for years until he too could attend the school that ensured his future would be bright.
We no longer have to worry about Jawad, or Salma for that matter. NSA has given them all the tools to be productive people who will help others, give back, and change history.