Reem Labib’s knowledge of the opportunities and challenges that charter schools face is broad and deep. As the Executive Director of a new school, I found that her historical perspective of charter school management in Washington, DC was invaluable and that her work as a school leader and contractor for various governing bodies and organizations yields a level of authenticity that schools can take comfort in. She has seen it all and gets it! She not only serves as a school consultant but as a friend of the schools that she serves. Ms. Labib offers honest but helpful advice and goes the extra mile by rolling up her sleeves to partake in the complex and hard work of educating children.
Dana Walker, Executive Director, Shining Stars Montessori Academy PCS (2011-12)
Thank you for EVERYTHING Reem! I truly appreciate and respect you. Thanks for challenging and pushing me, but most of all for supporting me. A lot of consultants do not take the time to make a personal connection but you did right from the start. That has made all the difference!
Jacque Hayden, Assistant Principal, Hospitality High Public Charter School
What does it take to transform a school?
Transformation requires sustained, dedicated engagement. It also requires unwavering focus on real results that signal real changes in the academic lives of children.-The National Center for Urban School Transformation
My journey with NIA began in April of 2010. As a friend of NIA I worked in an advisory role supporting and collaborating with the leaders of the school in the area of literacy. In August of 2010, I provided professional development for the DIBELS assessment. Since that time, I have facilitated professional development around progress monitoring, informal and formal assessments, conducted data talks, classroom observations and provided feedback, provided literacy resources, collaborated with the teachers and leadership and served as a mentor to the Reading Intervention teacher.
All programmatic and instructional decisions have been based on student data and conversations with Reem Labib, Interim Academic Director as well as teachers. It has always been the belief of the leadership as well as mine that the voices of the teachers are a part of change. It is not possible to create the systemic changes and transformation without teachers being engaged, invested, and empowered.
To illustrate one element of change at NIA, let me share a teacher quote that I captured during a professional development, “I am excited about using data to show how my students are growing through informal assessments such as running records, sight word inventories, and weekly fluency checks.”
It is evident that teachers are dedicated, passionate and invested, taking ownership of their ongoing learning as well as their students.
What we are witnessing are the beginning stages of a transforming school. The data shows us real results that are changing the lives of children. The testimonies you have heard and will hear signal the sustained dedicated engagement and unwavering focus. What we have here at NIA is a school in its early transformational stage. The program here is a viable one and it should be given the chance to fully change the academic lives of children.
~ Caroline Mwendwa-Baker, Literacy Coach/Independent Consultant, Washington DC
“After my first year of teaching in Newport News, VA as a first grade teacher I joined the newly established Nia Community Public Charter School in 2006. At the time Nia CPCS was located in Southeast Washington DC. The mission and vision of helping our students to recognize and reach their purpose was more than enough to pull me onboard. The mission at NIA has continued to be one of high achievement and character development, but we have stumbled along the way to accomplish it, due to an ever-changing administration, staff, and student population.
After three years as a First Grade teacher at Nia CPCS, I was charged with the assignment of helping to develop our reading intervention program. Prior to this, there was an absence of support in reading for our low-performing students. My effectiveness in the delivering reading instruction in my classroom, as well as my educational training, background, and commitment to the success of our students, led administrators to this decision.
Although I was very apprehensive to begin a new position that had not previously existed at Nia CPCS, I was excited about the possibilities it could bring for heightened student achievement, through small group intervention and coaching for teachers. In collaboration with the Interim Academic Director, Reem Labib, we have built the reading intervention program based upon best practices and individual student data and need.
As a part of the program, the students selected engage in small groups daily to fully develop their literacy in the areas of fluency, comprehension, phonics, and vocabulary. Students are selected through data analysis and teacher referral. An individual regimen is then created based upon their need, and achievement goals are set and monitored through assessment. The goal is for all students to be exited from the program, when they have achieved their academic and grade level goals.
I have been linked with two Reading Specialists, who were successfully demonstrating gains in student achievement in their schools, to be my mentors. I have also engaged in professional development to train Reading Coaches, so that our program will not only focus on student development, but on teacher development, as well.
In grades K-3 we are properly assessing students, providing explicit instruction to meet their individual academic needs, addressing the disparity of the lack of fundamental academic skills, and setting measurable goals, all in hopes of closing the achievement gap. During the 2010-2011 school year, there were 38 students receiving intervention support. 27% of these students have been exited, due to grade level performance on assessments (Benchmark). Another 24% have been moved from an Intensive Reading level, to a Strategic Level and the remaining 49% have all made marked gains, as demonstrated by DIBELS.
Now that we are on the course to setting and meeting high expectations for ourselves and for our students, it is unfair to judge us on past decisions, that have no bearing on what we are currently doing.“
M.B. Reading Intervention Teacher, Washington, DC
Dear Ms. Reem,
I want to say thank you for the life changing opportunity you have given me over the past year. It was my pleasure and blessing to have worked with you and I thank you for your very genuine support both for my students and myself as an individual. It is really a pleasure to work with a leader who is vested in ensuring that the teacher has the opportunity to feel comfortable about exercising his/her creativity within the classroom. Due to this I saw tremendous growth in the success of students. I appreciate you so much for the many things I have learned from you which helped me develop my craft as an educator. I admire the passion and grace with which you execute your duties. I will miss you and I really hope that we can stay in touch as I think of you as my professional mentor.
D. Dicks, Kindergarten Teacher, Washington, DC
Dear Reem Labib,
I am writing on behalf of the U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD) as well as for my own company, Disability Policy Solutions, to thank you and your staff for your recent warm hospitality to a distinguished guest. As you probably know by now, I made an emergency appeal only a few days before for a visit to SAIL by the Minister of Social Development of Bahrain, Dr. Fatima Bint Mohammed Al-Balooshi. It came about as a result of my having been in Bahrain that same week and having met with the Minister. She had asked for our help with her agenda to try to make Bahraini society more inclusive towards adults and children with disabilities. At the moment, children with disabilities are educated in total isolation from the mainstream. I offered to show her some programs should she ever get to the Washington, DC area.
I cannot express enough my sincere appreciation for your willingness to accommodate the Minister’s visit on such incredibly short notice. Moreover, you and the staff and kids at the school were absolutely wonderful and what I thought would be a 40-minute visit, at most, turned into over two hours.
Dr. Al-Balooshi was totally enthralled and told me the next day that it was the best part of her visit to DC (which means she liked it even more than the lunch that the World Bank held in honor of her and her brother, the Bahraini Ambassador to the U.S.).
She left your premises with instructions to her staff to pursue more information about how to go about creating a Charter School. As her Doctorate is in instructional design, she was familiar with the Charter School concept and really likes them, and now, as a result of the visit to SAIL, would like to start one in Bahrain. So, again my sincerest appreciation to all of you at SAIL, and especially you Ms. Labib who, despite being totally professional, never failed to demonstrate the strong affection you had for the kids and the staff at the school.
Ilene Zeitzer, President, Disability Policy Solutions, Rio de Janerio, Brazil
Thank you so much for letting me do my special ed internship at your school. When I told my professors that I wanted to be placed in a school with low-income kids that was metro accessible, they tried to send me to Alexandria thinking there wouldn’t be good teachers willing to participate in DC. I walked by your school a hundred times and wondered what went on…I’m so glad I got to find out about all the magic that goes on in your building.
So many schools have beautiful education philosophies that aren’t implemented in the classrooms. It’s obvious that your teachers believe in the mission and the children are thriving amidst all the love.
I’m so glad I found your school. It was such a fun and nurturing environment. I’ve recommended it to a few friends for next year’s internships.
Thank you so much for working with me. It really was a great experience.
E. O’Brien, University Student, Washington DC
It takes a village to raise a child
Thank you for being a part of our village for the last three years. It has been a pleasure and a blessing that Malik and I became part of the SAIL family. I have seen a very shy, unsure child grow and blossom over the years with the love and drive you brought to SAIL as the Principal. We are going to miss you and all that you gave to us and the other families at SAIL. It is my hope that in your new journey you final all the fulfillment and blessings you had with SAIL and may our paths cross again.
You will be truly missed!
Love, Tarva and Malik B., Washington, DC~ 2007
“Thank you for the opportunity to work under your leadership. I have learned so much about education and about loving children. Thank you for taking the time to help me work on my character. not many principals would take the time to help a teacher in that way.”
~ M.T., 3rd Grade Teacher, Washington, DC
Just wanted to say thank you for the guidance and support you’ve given me this year. I feel comfortable talking to you but also have respect for you and your position. I think that working with adults is much harder than working with children and you do it so gracefully, while treating us all in a fair manner. You always give us praise, which sometimes bosses don’t do with adults, but we still need it.
I know that there is a ton of work that you do behind the scenes that we don’t ever see and I want to let you know that I definitely appreciate you!
Thank you for everything
~ G.F., Kindergarten Teacher, Washington DC
When I first met you I was drawn to the fact that you were a woman of color and you were “running things” You looked at me, a woman of color trying to get her foot in the educational arena and made a space for me at your school as a student teacher. For this, I am eternally grateful. You were always approachable and provided constructive feedback and taught me about the value of not complaining but finding solutions….You have left a great imprint in my educational journey and I thank you so much.
Mrs.Alexis (1st/2nd Grade Student Teacher, SAIL,2005-2006)
“I can’t wait to start the school year with all the great ideas and strategies you showed us!”
~ E.Mitchell. Teacher, Memphis City Public Schools (note: this training was in June after the school year ended)
“You have been an integral part of my success as a first year teacher. Thank you! ~J.C., Washington, DC
“Thanks for all your support and help this school year. It was truly a blessing to have a person who genuinely cared about not only the success of the students but how I was as it relates to my ability to teach and manage effectively.”
~ T.G., Mentor Teacher, Washington, DC
IN THE CLASSROOM
To Whom It May Concern,
This is a short letter to give our unwavering support and a strong recommendation to Ms. Reem Labib. She has been a wonderful teacher for our son, and he has had a wonderful experience.
Our son Jeremy was under the direct supervision of Ms. Labib for his Grade 1 year. Jeremy can be a difficult child, but despite this Ms. Labib always showed caring, concern and genuine affection for him as a person. Jeremy awoke everyday excited and eager to go to school. He was as excited to get to school in May as he was in September. That takes a very special program and a very special teacher.
Ms. Labib communicates with parents more than any other teacher we have ever experienced. First and foremost are daily contracts, which immediately lets us know how our son did everyday in class for the entire day. When you have a difficult child these become invaluable for keeping the school-home connection strong. The countless hours Ms. Labib must have put in are astounding. Regular reports, constant communication and several parent days that were just amazing. That is what Ms. Labib did just to keep parents connected.
Our son had a full program of academics and a full program of life skills necessary for young children. Science, math and all other subjects were taught using a variety of appropriate pedagogical methods including the use of art and music. Most important to us was Ms. Labib’s wonderful approach to reading. Even though our son struggled, he always felt proud of his progress and we have no doubt that is only because of Ms. Labib’s tireless efforts that he made the progress he did. Ms. Labib is fabulous with children with special needs and is able to help them learn to their full potential.
Ms. Labib has excellent classroom management. In addition, she created an atmosphere where every student felt special and wanted to do their best. All of the rules and associated consequences were explained in the beginning of the year and were fairly and consistently applied. We have been in her classroom a number of times while class was in progress, and were always very impressed with Ms. Labib strong, calm management of a too large class doing a variety of different things. Each child always seemed to know exactly what was expected.
We as parents would highly recommend Ms. Labib to any school or program dealing with younger children. She will quickly become one of your most valued employees.
P. Ingram and S. Reaburn, Beirut, Lebanon
Dear Ms. Labib,
Many thanks to you for being Emma’s teacher this year. We are so happy to have known you and feel blessed that Emma has had the good fortune to learn and grow under your supervision. You are a wonderful teacher and we with you every success in your new career as you return to the USA. Thank you for your patience, dedication, sense of humor and friendship. We’ll keep in touch and may even cross paths with you again some day. Until then, we wish you the best.
Ann and Toufic Rizk, Beirut Lebanon