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Parent Commends District, Graham for Smooth Transition

Falisten Khalil, a mom of four, moved to the city of Mount Vernon last year. With three school-aged children enrolled in the District, Khalil has had a smooth and easy transition into a new District as well as to distance and hybrid learning models as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are living in a time when you notice how much effort goes into making a school and a district run smoothly,” said Khalil.  “Superintendent Dr. Hamilton (Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton) and his administration have been doing so much to move forward and not allow our students to get stuck or, worse, move backwards during this challenging time.

“It is clear that the District’s administration has our children’s success as their Number 1 priority. I have trust in Principal Dr. McGregor (Dr. Natasha Hunter-McGregor) at the Graham School, and in the District.”

Khalil has three children enrolled for their second year in the District, and all attend the Graham School. Her oldest daughter, Fatima Awawda, is in eighth grade; her younger daughter, Dunya Awawda, is in fifth grade; and her son, Jawad Awawda, is in first grade.

This year, Jawad joined a cohort of students that returned to the classroom as part of the District in Phase 1 of the reopening on November 16th. Fatima and Dunya returned on November 30th in Phase 2.

“Jawad, like many students with an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), needs to receive his education in a physical learning environment,” she said. “No matter how hard I tried, I just could not meet his needs at home. The District has been amazing at providing access to teachers and resources during this period of distance learning, but he had a smooth transition back to the classroom.”

She praised the instructional approaches of her children’s teachers, the helpfulness and dedication of the Graham School’s front office staff and security guards, as well as the District administration as a whole.

“It takes engagement and collaboration between parents and teachers to ensure our children are doing their very best, and it has been even more apparent over the last year,” said Khalil. “Even before COVID-19, Graham School was well-organized, clean, and made an effort to keep parents informed on their children’s progress.”

Khalil shared that her children, like herself and her husband, are bilingual; they speak both Arabic and English fluently. They celebrate their Palestinian and Middle Eastern traditions and cultures together as a family.

“As a parent, it’s the little things that mean so much. Everyone in the District has worked so hard to meet parents’ needs and has never wavered in their commitment to provide our children with the best education they can receive. My children’s teachers have had such a big impact on their lives. Many of them, especially for my son, have become incredible mentors over the last few months.”