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  • Writer's pictureRick Joseph

Keeping Connected in Two Cultures

Central Academy is the kind of educational environment that feels like family. This new reality began when Dr. Luay Shalabi and a group of educators and community members sat down over 20 years ago and decided to start a school where their children did not have to relinquish their ancestral culture in order to be fully American. The result is a school where Dr. Shalabi and his staff work hard to cultivate a community in which every child feels empowered to embrace two languages – English and Arabic. Many students’ home language is Arabic, and at Central Academy all students embrace the power and challenge of being bilingual and bicultural.

The teachers at Central Academy engage in progressive practice that honors the whole child. I witnessed a fifth grade class where students employed the power of music to sing their way through history. In another class, students stood at work stations instead of sitting at desks in order to facilitate greater movement and stimulate attentiveness. In a third class, first graders played a kinesthetic game to learn about homonyms.

The community of Central Academy lives by a core motto that is emblazoned on walls throughout the school: “The choices you make today shape your world tomorrow.” Dr. Shalabi knows the message has taken root when former students remark that they have adopted this message as their personal mantra. The teachers and students work hard to make sound decisions on a daily basis as they fully prepare for the demands of the future.

Dr. Luay Shalabi stands by the motto of Central Academy

Collaborative poetry promotes an appreciation of the power of verse

Sharing our work meaningfully always promotes powerful engagement and community

Arabic language and culture is embraced at Central Academy

Read-alouds are a time-honored, powerful teaching technique

Central Academy broadcasts its core message to the world

Learning is always fun when games are employed as teaching tools

Collaboration and attention to task are critical components of Central Academy

Standing up to work promotes freedom of movement and facilitates focus

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