I’m so happy that one of the staff members of American Islamic School reached out to me and told me about this new online school. I’m excited because we (Muslims) certainly need more Islamic schools–online or off, where we can educate our children not only in academics but in our deen as well! I hope through these questions and answers, you will get an insight into what American Islamic School is all about and its plans for educating Muslim children, inshaaAllah! This interview was conducted with Ahmed Geddy, one of the founding members and principal of the school.
Where is American Islamic School based, and is it accredited by a reputable agency?
American Islamic School (AIS) is based in Ontario Canada.
AIS has two approval and accreditation pathways:
The first is a Canadian pathway.
AIS is approved by the Ontario Ministry of Education. Our Ministry BSID# is 667049. AIS is listed as a private Elementary school on the Ontario Ministry of Education website.
The second pathway is American.
American Islamic School will also pursue candidacy and accreditation through the New England Association of School and Colleges – the premiere American and International school accreditation body in the world. The accreditation process will begin in 2021 Insha Allah.
What is your role in American Islamic School…teacher, principle, director?
I am the Principal of the school.
What made you and others involved want to establish this online Islamic school?
We recognize the changing educational landscape and the demand for an adaptable and accessible educational experience. Our goal is to provide a high-quality faith-based education that is affordable and will benefit not only the students, but their families, and entire communities around the world. Alhamdulillah, our courses focus on developing the skills and dispositions that students will need for future success.
How is this school different from other online schools that already exist?
The value propositions that make us unique and different from other online schools are the following:
- As an Online School, AIS offers a Project Based Learning curriculum that is connected to Islamic values to prepare students for the 21st century.
- AIS offers an exceptional Islamic Studies program, Quran, and a traditional pathway of core subjects (English, Math, Science).
- AIS is offered at the very affordable price of $1,245 USD for the entire academic year (approximately $125 per month).
- AIS provides a pathway to a dual Canadian and American High School diploma (through the Ontario Ministry of Education and accreditation by the New England Association of School and Colleges) that is accredited and recognized by universities and colleges worldwide.
Can you tell us a little more about the mission and goals of this school for its students?
The mission is to Prepare, Inspire, Nurture, and Grow: Together
American Islamic School has a lifelong commitment to foster the knowledge, skills, dispositions, and Islamic values of our students through critical engagement with the best pedagogical practices coupled with the guidance of the Quran and Prophetic traditions to inspire a love and passion of life long and self-directed learning in our community that will prepare them to succeed in the future Insha Allah.
A school’s mission statement describes what a school is seeking to achieve as a community of learners. American Islamic School’s mission statement is the foundation of our strategic plans through which we develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions our children and community needs to succeed in the future.
Vision: The school embodies academic, Islamic, social, and moral principles in order to develop an atmosphere which promotes intellectual, civic, and creative capacities within its students to their full potential. The objective is the cultivation of the highest level of human talent where reflection on one’s identity and realization of the needs and challenges of a rapidly changing world are materialized.
At American Islamic School we believe that:
- If given the opportunity and support, every child can achieve academic success.
- All students have their own unique pattern of learning.
- Successful pedagogy is founded on experience and evidence-based research.
- Teaching is a communal effort, and Project Coordinators, Tutors, and Tarbiya Coaches need the support of the community to develop a positive learning environment that extends beyond the classroom.
Our goal is to provide a high-quality faith-based education that is affordable and will benefit not only the students, but their families, and entire communities around the world.
I’ve briefly skimmed the school’s website and it mentions project-based learning. Can you further explain what it entails and how it can benefit students?
Project Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects.
Students work on a project over an extended period of time – from 10 – 12 weeks – that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question. They demonstrate their knowledge and skills by creating a public product or presentation for a real audience.
As a result, students develop deep content knowledge as well as essential skills and dispositions such as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills that extend beyond content-based knowledge. Project Based Learning unleashes a contagious, creative energy among students and teachers.
Through PBL, we engage students in active exploration of real world problems and solutions in order to develop the critical skills that companies in the real world look for beyond a university or college degree. Our curriculum develops these skills through four steps of Project Based Learning:
STEP 1: Launch the Project
In the initial stage, a real world problem is introduced and students explore the driving question of the project and develop their own questions for research. In the initial stage, students develop their inquiry and critical thinking skills by developing Need to Know questions that will be the driving force of the project and research.
STEP 2: Conduct Research
Project Based Learning engages students in learning that is deep, long lasting, and connected to the real world. As students build background knowledge through research and learn more about their project, they develop essential research skills, they collaborate with peers, and learn independently. Learning goes beyond content and develops skills that are essential for the future Insha Allah.
STEP 3: Develop Product and Critique
With PBL, learning is authentic. Students are challenged in a fun and engaging way to develop products and solutions to real world problems. Once students complete their research and decide on a solution to the problem, they must develop a product or a prototype and receive feedback and critique from peers, experts, project coordinators, tarbiya coaches, and tutors.
STEP 4: Public Exhibition
Finally, students share their products and solutions in a real exhibition with an audience of parents, community leaders, experts, peers, and educators, and they are assessed on their final solution or product, presentation, and communication skills.
Alhamdulillah, we strive to ensure that children not only understand what they are learning, but more importantly, WHY they are learning it. Whether it’s a PBL on how to become a successful entrepreneur or how biomimicry and observing the creation of Allah can help us find solutions to human problems, learning is purposeful, authentic, and focused on preparing children for a rapidly changing world.
PBL prepares students for a project based world and challenges them:
- To engage with their passions and growing sense of purpose;
- Teaches them critical skills needed for 21st century career and citizenship; and,
- Inspires them towards social responsibility to make their world a better place.
Here is a screenshot of our Project Milestones and Weekly Assignments for one of our Projects in the 3rd grade:
I would also like to take the opportunity to briefly discuss the Islamic Studies component at American Islamic School. Due to its tremendous benefit in developing moral character, the primary objective and benefit of the Islamic Studies program is for our students to:
- Take pride in their Islamic identity; civic duty, and success, thus, Islamic Studies is the most important focus area at American Islamic School.
- Take the Quran and sunnah as their guide for improving their moral character and lives
I would also like to take the opportunity to mention a few points about our Traditional Pathway InshaAllah. The Traditional Pathway is content-based and generally focuses on educational practices and mastery of academic learning in the core subject areas (Mathematics, Language Arts, and Science). The curriculum is subject specific, standardized, and broken down into units or modules.
For families who would prefer a traditional education pathway instead of Project Based Learning, American Islamic School offers Literacy and Math courses aligned to the New York State Standards under the Eureka Math program, IXL, Expeditionary Learning, Core Knowledge Language Arts, Khan Academy, and Raz-Kids.
To obtain an official report card, students must enroll in either Project Based Learning or a Traditional Pathway along with Islamic Studies:
Option 1: PBL & Islamic Studies
Option 2: Traditional Pathway & Islamic Studies
Quran is optional but highly recommended.
Narrated Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“The best among you are those who learn the Quran and teachit.” [Bukhari]
Families may also choose individual courses however the students will not receive an official report card
For people who cannot afford the tuition and are interested in registering their children, is there any financial assistance or a discount that is available to them?
We approach each case individually and based in the circumstances of the family.
Anything else you would like to add or let readers know about American Islamic School?
To find out more about American Islamic School, please visit our website, FAQ section, and Family Handbook through the links below:
To find out more about our fee structure, kindly visit the following links:
Alhamdulillah, we are currently offering a free 3 month trial for term 3 of the 2019-2020 academic year beginning in April. To sign up for the 3 month trial, families can visit the following link: https://americanislamic.school/free_trial/
Our team is always available, please feel free to contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
My son who’s a second grader is currently enrolled in the free trial month and once he’s completely done, I’ll do a review, inshaaAllah. So far, he’s enjoying the program, alhamdulilah!