My name is Chafik Ziadeh and I am the Business Development Coordinator for the Granada Islamic School (GIS) in Santa Clara, California. At our school, we instill core concepts that are akin to the founding principles of many other religious schools: Strong moral values, service to our community, and excellence in all that we do. In a time and season where the Muslim culture is often stigmatized, we strive to provide a safe learning environment for our students. The prejudice that adult Muslims face on the streets is concerning enough, but new studies are focusing on how the political climate is affecting student safety in schools. Unfortunately, physical manifestations of our religion can be used to label and even bully students. We provide not only academic excellence, but a haven for our community.
GIS is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). We bolster a strong academic program that uses the Common Core Standards in English Language Arts (ELA) and math. Additionally, we bring the teachings and traditions of Islam to life for our students. And beyond serving as an academic institution, GIS works to cultivate a sense of identity for young Muslim-Americans.
Established in 1988 with 25 students, today we serve over 500 K-8th graders. We have recently opened a high school program and, though our community continues to grow, we still hold true to our original mission: “To provide quality academic and Islamic education in a community that nurtures a strong Muslim identity, fosters brotherhood, and strengthens moral character.”
I started attending GIS in 1999. I was a third grader and admittedly, originally wasn’t a fan of being away from my public school friends or the intimate nature of being in a smaller school with uniforms and rigorous academic standards. But as an adult I’ve come to realize what a privilege it was to be here. Having a space where the symbols of Islam – dress, names, prayer, home language – are embraced instead of being met with suspicion or xenophobia is something I wish for all young Muslim-Americans, and has given me deep meaning in my own life.
Cultural identity is as important as education. We express our utmost gratitude to our friends and supporters at the BASIC Fund for understanding this, and for being key contributors in support of our students. By continuing their mission of providing opportunities for all families, we can continue to bring unity and success to our community.
On behalf of the GIS Community,
Business Development Coordinator
Granada Islamic School, Santa Clara, CA