Muslim Educational Trust (MET)'s Oregon Islamic Academy is much more than a school. It's a launching pad for healthy futures, a sanctuary for Muslim students of all races and socioeconomic classes, a community of people who value learning in many different ways. It's also an excellent example of how culturally-specific education can support a child to succeed.
"I left MET a stronger person in my faith than I think I otherwise would have been. It's hard being a Muslim in today's society, but they helped build our confidence in that aspect of our identities by providing outreach, interfaith, and presentation opportunities for the students," said Mariam Said, an Oregon Islamic Academy class of 2012 alumna who is currently a teaching intern at Milwaukie High School.
Mariam says she has so many good memories of her time at MET, "it has all sort of melded into one warm feeling." She fondly remembers working with everyone in her high school to make a short film for their Islamic Studies project and celebrating graduation on the Portland Spirit.
Oregon Islamic Academy students take Islamic Studies and Arabic classes and pray together in the afternoon. They also take science and art, math and English, participate in service learning days and collaborate with other schools and community organizations. For example, Oregon Islamic Academy has partnered with Oregon Episcopal School on a class called American Story, in which students share and respond to immigrant stories.
Students who are members of the Youth Ambassadors Club at Oregon Islamic Academy travel to schools throughout the area to give presentations and answer questions about being a Muslim student in Oregon. They've found students and staff at these schools to be very curious and welcoming. Oregon Islamic Academy staff see their students as reversing misconceptions about what an Islamic school is and who graduates from one. They also see their students as bridge builders, from their community to other communities.
When Oregon Islamic Academy was founded, it had 12 students. Today, it has grown to 160 K-12 students, some driving to Tigard every day from as far away as Vancouver, WA, plus a waiting list. Oregon Islamic Academy graduated its first high school class of two students in 2011; this year, it will have graduated 21 seniors since the inception of its high school program in 2007. So far, 100 percent of students have gone on to four-year colleges and have continued to put their faith into action by excelling in all that they do and by being committed, well-engaged citizens of the world.
Muslim Educational Trust is a Kaiser Permanente Community Fund funded partner.