Interview with Alpha Omega student and his father

Reema HadiMother
Yahya Al-Din Father

Reema: I think what we noticed the most about Alpha is how confident Zach has become. He was really shy and he didn’t really speak much and I think within a very short period of time he has been there now, two years, he’s really come out of his shell. He feels very proud of his achievements, proud of who he is. We wanted a school that supported him and helped him find himself. We didn’t want a school that just broke the kids’ spirits and, it’s fine academia is very important too and we love how Alpha’s got an academic focus, but we noticed that what was different was that Alpha also made them confident and made him able to express his thoughts very clearly. We thought that would give him skills, not just for school. but skills for life. We love how Alpha has a focus on being organised, on time management, prioritising and kind of teaching the formula for success. But it’s not just about success in school, it’s about success in life and what he’s learned is something that he can carry for the rest of his work skills, his family skills and whatever he chooses to do in the future. And I think that’s what we most loved about Alpha is that we saw the change in him from someone who is unmotivated to someone who actually organised his own life. We never had to tell him to study. He did it himself. We never asked him to do work. He did it himself. I think that sense of responsibility is just profound in a teenage son.

Yahya: He’s definitely engaged and at the end of the day as parents, that’s what we want. We wanted them to be engaged with his family, with his studies, and with his life. These are critical years for them and we find that Alpha provides them with the right mindset for them to really appreciate what’s happening in the future and really sets them up. I also, as a parent, really liked the collegiality between the teachers and the students. It’s kind of like a college environment rather than a normal school environment. “Do not step on the grass” and all that, that we’ve always been subjugated to. It kinda has a demeaning tone, whereas Alpha has the opposite approach and that’s really important to us because that breeds into their confidence and half the success of life is your confidence and your ability to believe in yourself. Within two years, Zach went from someone that struggled with that until he’s very confident.

Reema: Yeah it’s true. The mentor-mentee relationship, it’s not really a teacher-student relationship.

Yahya: And as parents, we can actually talk to him like an adult. 

Reema: Yep. He’s grown up in a very short time.

Yahya: And he’s only 13. So it’s a Testament to the environment that he is in day in and day out. We all know the environment that he’s in is probably more influential than what we can teach him at home because of the limited time within the home. So, Alpha is the solution that we’ve been searching for.

Yeah, it certainly met our expectations. We really liked how it’s a very respectful environment. Like it’s very multicultural and I feel like he’s a citizen of the world, so to speak, and he kind of brought home the cultural respect that everyone’s different, but we’re all important. 

I think from a parent’s perspective, I love that he has a very individualised learning program. I’ve never seen a school that goes, “Okay, well, this student, I know this kid, I know his weaknesses. I know his strengths”. You really get that from the parent-teacher interviews. Like they actually know him really well and they have a plan for him. “This is what we’re going to do. This is Zack’s plan for the short-term. This is Zack’s plan for the long-term” I’ve never seen a school that actually changes the learning and learning goals for a child, Normally it’s “This is it”, the cookie cutter approach. No one ever makes the effort to find out about the student and how best they can learn. And I think that’s what we’ve noticed as well.

Yahya: He’s not just a number for Alpha. When we call up the teacher when we try and get feedback.

Reema: It’s very easy to contact the teacher. We have a text message if we need to contact Ms Omsia directly. I’ve never seen a school that gives you a number of someone to contact, that troubleshoots for you whatever concerns you have. 

Reema: For the first time we’ve got to see last year and this year during lockdown…

Yahya: What PD is?

Reema: What PD is and what the teachers were doing.

Yahya: Zach would go into zoom and he’d say, “Oh, it’s PD session”.

Reema: And so we’d all run in.

Yahya: We “Turn off the mic” because we’re all at home, right? We’re all bored out of our brains. And it was your own private, what’s that public speaker?

Reema: inspirational speaker, motivational speaker, you know, “Oh, you know, you can do this”. And for the rest of the day, we’re like, “Hmm, I can do this”.

Yahya: I’m pumped.

Reema: Yeah. I can do this. You know I’ve never had PD. We never had PD. I’ve never heard of PD. But it’s basically the formula for success. Something that you accumulate over lifetimes, “Here you go, we’re going to tell you how to become successful in life”. We thought that was amazing because it’s a combination of goal setting, motivation and inspiration. I don’t know some magic, they speak to them in a way that the kids go, “Oh, wow” like we’re all sitting around listening, going “Wow”. Zach. You know, if only I had known this when I was a student that would have made my life so much easier.

Yahya: I look at education from a sort of two perspectives, your maths, science, and these hard subjects are the hard skills. Then there are the soft skills. That’s much more etherlike and you can’t really grasp it. You can’t be examined on it, but you know, we all know that’s what life is about. It’s not a straight line path but a zigzag towards success. And I find that the personal development aspect of Alpha gives them that approach to the zigzag of life. Life is not a straight line.

Reema: Yeah, that’s right. That if you can’t make it the first time, if you get knocked back, that’s okay. I guess resilience is what we’re saying. Teaches them resilience. Not just, “Oh well, you know, “I didn’t make it, I give up”. No, you don’t give up, you keep going and I think that’s what PD teaches them. No, we’re very happy. It’s been a great experience. We will hopefully send the other one as well.