Monday, June 13, 2011

Saheela Ibraheem: A Lesson in Possibilities for America's Kids

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While I haven't been posting lately, I have been thinking a great deal about education, what the community's role has to be in our (often) unspoken promise to nurture young minds for the future, and what it means to commit to that mission. 

In recent weeks, I came across the story of Saheela Ibraheem of  Piscataway, New Jersey.  At 15 years old, she has the distinction of heading off to Harvard next year.  The University is one of six Ivy League colleges and 13 (of 14) colleges that accepted the young scholar.  Saheela, the daughter of Nigerian immigrants, skipped 2 grades, plays the trombone, and is a 3-sport athlete.

The teen left the public school system to attend the private Wardlaw-Hartridge School because she wanted a more challenging academic atmosphere.
Like so many, I was elated to hear this great report about the future scientist.  As a Jersey Girl, I was particularly proud.  It was encouraging to see Miss Ibraheem's impact on so many diverse communities.

Then I started thinking about that public school.

I was glad to hear that the Ibraheem family was willing to do whatever it took to secure the best resources for their daughter.  Yet, I was disheartened to hear that those resources couldn't be found in the local public high school.  I was reminded of the story of another whiz kid, teenage Morehouse Man Stephen Stafford, II, whose parents chose home-schooling over public options.

I think we know that we need to do "whatever it takes" to make the difference in our kids' lives.  By now, the documentaries and talk shows and debates have driven this home.

But the questions still remain - and the problems still need solving.

What can we as concerned educators, parents and community members do to change that environment - creating a schools where young scientists/artists/teachers/business leaders are challenged, inspired, and nurtured.  How can we turn Saheela's story into one of many in schools around the country?

If we can tap into that, Saheela's story can be a lesson for us all.

Check out this brief interview with Saheela and her mom:

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