2.18.2007

Khalil Gibran International Academy: NYC's 1st Arabic Public School

In so many ways, New York City operates on a different dimension than the rest of the country. Love it or hate it, there's simply no other city like it in the country--or in the world. In my opinion, only the Canadian City of Toronto comes close.

More proof of its uniqueness came this week when the Department of Education announced that among next year's crop of 40 new schools is the City's first Arabic Public School. Yes, an Arabic Public School in an American City--and home to the country's largest Jewish population.

My friends, only in New York!

Named after the Lebanese poet and philosopher, the Khalil Gibran International Academy for grades 6-12 will be located in Brooklyn. The school is being sponsored by the Arab-American Family Support Center and New Visions for Public Schools with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

When it opens in September, only sixth grade will be offered, with another grade added each year, and eventually serving 500 to 600 students in grades 6-12. By the third year, the school hopes to offer half the classes in Arabic and half in English.

The school's principal is Debbie Almontaser, a 15-year veteran of the school system. She was quoted by a New York City newspaper as saying, "We are wholeheartedly looking to attract as many diverse students as possible, because we really want to give them the opportunity to expand their horizons and be global citizens."