AIA Weekend Islamic School History
In the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful. May Allah give His blessings to the Prophet Mohammad (S), his family and companions. May Allah grant us peace, His mercy and blessings. The American Islamic Association (AIA) is thankful to Allah who blessed us with an Islamic Center including a Masjid and an Islamic School.
The AIA Weekend Islamic School (School) was founded in 1978 by a small group of families to provide Islamic education to the Muslim children and protect their Islamic identity. They rented class rooms in the Hickory Creek Middle School in Frankfort for this purpose. The school started with a group of about 30 students and a staff of three teachers. There were only two classes of about 15 students each. Initially they were taught Islamic Studies and Hadith/Seerah of the Prophets. A few weeks later Quran reading/Surah memorization class was introduced in the curriculum. After couple of years the School lease expired and a building was rented in Tinley Park. The classes were held in that building for one year. The AIA felt a desperate need for their own place for prayers, Islamic School and other activities.
The AIA purchased a 14-acre property at 8860 St. Francis Road, Frankfort in 1981. The property included a farmer’s house and an airplane hangar. The AIA remodeled the house and the hangar to accommodate the increasing number of students in the School. Students from ages five to sixteen were registered in the School. The registration in the School had increased to about 50 to 60 students by that time. The students were divided into seven classes. Three subjects, Quran reading/Surah memorization, Islamic Studies and Hadith/Seerah were taught in the School.
In the mid eighties, a Hafiz-e-Quran was hired by the School to put more emphasis on reading Quran/Surah memorization. Since then a large number of students have finished reading the Quran and have memorized a large number of Surahs. The students participated in various competitions organized by the AIA and other local Muslim organizations and earned prizes. An outdoor basketball hoop was installed for the children to play during recess. A voluntary lunch program for the students was also introduced in the mid eighties.
By the turn of the Century the registration in the School reached to about 75 students. More structured programs were added to improve the efficiency of the School. A Student Handbook was published at the beginning of each school year which contained information about School activities, policies and curriculum. An annual Quran/Adhan Competition and a Islamic Knowledge Quiz Competition were also introduced. A few years later, Parents-Teachers Conferences were held yearly. This gave parents a chance to meet the teachers and an opportunity to discuss their children’s progress at the School. The parents were encouraged to make suggestions and present ideas to improve the School performance. Extracurricular activities were arranged for the students at the school premises. Field trips were also arranged for the students.
The Muslim population in the south suburbs increased with time and a bigger place for the Islamic School was needed. To fulfill the needs of the community for Islamic activities a building project was introduced. Plans to build an Islamic Center was considered a few times in the past but could not be implemented. By the Grace of Allah and sincere efforts of the AIA Board of Trustees and community members this important project was accomplished in 2005.
The new facility provided the much needed additional space for increased school programs and activities. The new building included five classrooms for the Islamic School. The old prayer hall in the hangar was converted into two more classrooms. A Recreational Room was recently added in the old classroom building which includes a ping-pong table, a pool table and a foosball table. This provided the children with some indoor fun activities during recess time.
A more formal structure for classes with specific age groups was established, along with a standardized textbook-based curriculum. A methodological system was introduced for selecting qualified volunteer teachers, assistant teachers and substitute teachers. A few years ago, a PC-based School Manager Software was implemented that allows for computerized student registrations, fee payment accounting and an official grading system for printing report cards.
One of the newer programs introduced was the after-school Surah Club, which is held in every March and April. The students recite as many Surahs as they have memorized . Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded to the students depending upon the number of Surahs memorized. This gives an incentive to the children to memorize more Surahs. This program has proved highly successful Masha’Allah, where students eagerly participate and push themselves to memorize as many Surahs and Dua’s as they are capable. An early hour Quran/Tajweed class was started in 2009 for those students who needed extra help in reading Quran and catch up with the regular students in the class. Several students have benefited from this class.
A Supervised Recess Program was implemented a couple of years ago. It helps with monitoring the safety of the children during recess time. Also the first ever professional-quality School Year Book was published last year (2010). It is a good collection-item for students to remember their colleagues, teachers and their school experiences.
For the past few years, the School has also been holding a one-month Summer School program in July. There are two separate program, one for boys and one for girls. On average, about 15boys and 30 girls have participated in the summer programs.
Due to the growth of the School, along with the administrative position of the School Principal,a position of an Associate Principal was introduced in 2008. In general, the role of the Associate Principal is to assist the Principal – whereas the Principal is involved in the overall School business and administration (course syllabus, school policies, financial responsibilities, etc), the Associate Principal is responsible for day-to-day running of programs and classes (arranging substitute teachers, school supplies, managing School Manager Software, etc.)
It is the goal of the School to improve its academic standard and provide Islamic education and environment to the Muslim children. To achieve this goal, the School is continuing to carry out all the activities and programs that were carried out by the previous administrations,and adding new programs. The School has a very dedicated group of teachers including 15 regular and 6 assistant teachers. They devote their time and energy, and make extra efforts to teach the students, prepare lectures, quizzes, homework assignments and tests etc, along with attending Teachers Training Seminars and Workshops. Teacher’s meetings are frequently held to share information between the teachers and administration, and find ways to improve School performance.
The School is open to Muslim children ages 5 to 16 years. The classes are held on Sundays from 11:00 am. to 1:40 pm. starting in the second week of September and ending in the third week of May. Currently, 115 students are registered in the School. A formal lunch system is in place,arranged by a group of dedicated Lunch Moms every school-day. Catered lunch is provided by the School at 12:25 pm. A calendar of events for whole year and the curriculum is distributed before the beginning of the school year. A Student Assembly is held on the first day of School year to inform the students and the parents about School programs, activities and discipline policy. The textbooks and Student Binders are provided to the students on the same day.
Over thirty years have passed since the establishment of AIA Weekend Islamic School. It was the vision, struggle and endless efforts of early members of the AIA who took upon the responsibility to found an Islamic School to provide Islamic education to the Muslim children and protect their Islamic identity. Since then several brothers and sisters have contributed their services to the School to achieve this goals. It is now an institution where children gain Islamic knowledge and implement it in their daily life. Alhamdulillah, past students are actively participating in the School activities. A few past students are now regular class teachers, and some are assistant teachers at the School. This progress would not have been possible without the help of Allah and sincere efforts of the brothers and sisters of this community.
Prophet Mohammed (S) said that all actions of a person come to an end after his death except for three things from which one still gets the rewards from Allah. Providing knowledge in one of the three things from which a person continues to get the reward. May Allah reward all the teachers, past and present, for their services to the School and providing Islamic knowledge to the Muslim children from which Insha’Allah they will benefit. May Allah reward all the brothers and sisters who helped the School in any capacity. May Allah forgive our shortcomings and our mistakes. Let us pray to Allah that the coming generations follow the teachings of Islam and propagate its message to the World and may Allah give us the highest place in the Heavens. Ameen!
(Note: I have tried my best to compile the history of the School with the available information. I apologize for any error in the text and if I missed to acknowledge the services of any member of the AIA. May Allah give them twice the reward).
Abdul Khalique, Ph.D.
AIA Weekend Islamic School
LIST OF PRINCIPALS
|PRINCIPAL’S NAME||YEARS SERVED||Pictures|
|Mohammad Afzal Firdausi||1980-1986|
|Syed M. Younus||1988-1990|
|Khalid Anwar Saiyed||1990-1992|
|Abdul Khalique||2008 – to date|
|Khalid Mozaffar – Associate Principal
|2008 – to date|