He’s a school principal whose hard work and dedication has impressed students and staff alike. And recently his work had caught attention of national education leaders.
For 16 years Habeeb Quadri has watched his students flourish at the Muslim Community Center Academy schools.
“Our motto is building character developing minds,” he said. “It is very important to us - not only the academic success which our kids have - but also the character aspect.”
Located in Morton Grove and Skokie, Muslim Community Center Academy is one of 240 Islamic parochial schools nationwide, and has seen great success since Quadri took the helm in 2003.
Under his leadership, just about every aspect of the school has transformed. He has balanced the budget, increased test scores and student population. He has started dozens of after school programs and is also working to expand the school to include highschoolers.
Last month he was the first Islamic school principal to receive the prestigious National Distinguished Principals Award.
But there is more to the school’s success than numbers. It is the culture he creates.
“If we can show kids that, even as the leader of the school, education is important but also being happy and being fun,” Quadri said. “Education can be fun and also at times being a little silly.”
Quadri says in addition to fun he wants his students to connect with the world outside of school walls. All students are required to participate in 10 hours of community service prior to graduation.
Quadri has been called a trailblazer for his innovative approach and students say he is a friend and a mentor. His energy and care for his staff and students is palpable and Quadri said they are like family.
When diagnosed with cancer last year, he decided to turn it into a real life teaching moment and shared the news with his students.
But throughout his personal challenges, the inspirational principal continues to remain positive.
Habeeb Quadri is one of Chicago’s Very Own.