Sitting under a large oak in the courtyard of the Muslim Educational Trust near Washington Square, Wajdi Said reflects on Khalil Gibran's words. As the trust's executive director, he's shared them over the summer with several students -- seedlings in the new Oregon Islamic Academy.
Last week, the academy welcomed its inaugural class of six students, their roots plucked from hills far from America, as the trust took a measured step toward providing a full Islamic high school education -- a first in the Northwest.
Said doesn't care about being first, but he does care deeply that the academy, an addition to the already established Islamic School, will last. The school is growing, with 16 teachers and 125 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, up from 89 students last year. He wants to learn from the missteps of other private schools, to keep from trying too much, too soon.
He wants to ensure that the school continues to prepare students who are not only accomplished and ready to excel in college, but also solid in their faith and primed to be stalwart U.S. citizens and leaders.
The school's 2-acre campus has three new buildings, which will serve the middle and high school students, with room for computer and science laboratories. The master plan calls for a two-story schoolhouse that also will house a library, says Sahar Bassyouni, a trust board member.
Simply starting the academy -- away from the temptations and troubles of public schools -- is "a dream come true for a lot of us," Bassyouni says.
The academy's faculty includes Jawad Khan, 29, who is in his seventh year as a teacher at the school and has a 4-year-old in the pre-kindergarten. Khan, who will teach language arts and history to sixth- and ninth-graders this year, sees the academy not as an isolated haven but more as a greenhouse where the students’ Muslim beliefs can grow. (MORE)