Mrs. Diana Abdi
HEAD OF SCHOOL
Mrs Diana Abdi has a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Grand Canyon University plus Director certification for Pre-school. She has over 20 years of Administrative and sales experience. Her community work includes the establishment of the first Islamic school in Austin and starting the Upper School program at APA. In 2007, she worked as an administrative assistant to the Principal and in 2009 became Principal. She has attended numerous educational workshops and received several certifications in Continued Education such as ‘Learning for Change’, ‘Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement’, ‘The Role of Assessment’ and ‘High School summit change’. She is a member of National Association of Secondary School Principals and a member of Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. She is also a keynote speaker at several Islamic fundraising events across the country promoting Islamic schools.
Mr. Ryan Hetzer
HEAD OF LOWER AND UPPER SCHOOL
Mr. Ryan Hetzer was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from Whitfield School in 1995, and during his senior internship he was placed in a Pre-Kindergarten classroom. In the summer after his graduation, he worked as a camp counselor for 2nd graders and it was clear his career path was within the educational profession. He went on to Stetson University in DeLand, Florida where he earned his bachelor's degree in elementary education in 1999. His alma mater, Whitfield School, hired him to teach Social Studies to grades 7 and 8. He spent eight years at Whitfield School as a teacher while also coaching the Varsity baseball team as the head coach, the Varsity basketball team as an assistant coach, and the varsity soccer team as the goalkeeping coach. During these years Ryan also was the President of an American Legion baseball program that played during the summer months. Ryan was open to new opportunities in education and certainly found a unique and amazing opportunity at The American School of Marrakesh in Morocco. During his first year at the school, Ryan was asked to join the school's administrative team where he then served ten years as an Upper School Principal. At the American School of Marrakesh, Ryan was also the head basketball coach for the varsity team, served as the school's AP Coordinator, was a Team Leader on the school's Accreditation Committee, helped to implement the ongoing transition to the International Baccalaureate (IB diploma), and served as a college counselor for the high school grades. His hobbies include reading novels, watching documentary films, and following his favorite professional sports team, the St. Louis Cardinals. Ryan has been considering a return to the United States for a few years, but only for a situation he was extremely excited about in a community that he felt at home. Ryan believes he has found that at Austin Peace Academy. Ryan will be relocating to Austin with his wife, Sara, his son Ryan Jr. ("RJ", 7 years old), and his twin daughters Maya Lee and Julia Aisha (3 years old.)
Br. Ahmed Alhalhali
DEAN OF STUDENTS
Mr. Ahmed Alhalhali is a certified teacher in the state of Texas, and he has a Master’s degree in Education, Learning, and Technology. He also has many years of experience working with young Muslims on an almost daily basis. He has worked as an administrator and teacher at Iman Academy for the past 8 years, and during that time connected deeply with students, building strong relationships centered on trust and mutual respect. He also strongly believes in connecting Islam to everything we learn and do, as well as enhancing education via technology. Br. Ahmed Alhalhali has also had the honor of serving as the Education Secretary at his local mosque, and has had the chance to organize and take part in many Islamic programs geared toward the Youth with many ISGH masajid in the Southwest Houston area over the past few years. As a father of four children in varying stages of growth, he understands the great importance of weaving Islam into the lives of the youth, and the importance of mentorship and empathy towards them. He strongly believes that our communities should strive to teach our children from a young age the correct Aqeedah and beliefs, and share with them a love for the Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions. Just as importantly, they should be taught aspects of good character, like being courageous, kind, generous and modest. Alhumdulillah, he has gained respect and a second family in his current community, and he is excited for his coming journey as APA’s Dean of Students and Middle and Upper School Islamic Studies teacher, and for all the goodness it will bring inshaAllah. He joins APA in 2022.
Ms. Maisaa Hawana
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Mrs Maisaa Hawana graduated with a B. Sc. degree in Computer Engineering from Iowa State University and a diploma in Communications Engineering from Public Authority of Applied Education and Training, Kuwait. She also received her Masters of Education in Education with Principalship from Concordia University in 2017. Prior to joining APA, she worked for the State of Texas as a TAKS exam scorer and as a teacher’s aide at a childcare center. Her qualifications include certified Math Middle/Upper School teacher, childhood development training and several computer certifications. In addition to teaching mathematics in school, she is in charge of the finances, the day to day operations and works closely with the IT department in software and hardware maintenance issues. Ms. Maisaa has attended many workshops including Thinking Maps, training in using “Mimio Interactive projectors” in the classrooms and the summer UT Summer Institute for teaching Pre-AP Mathematics for Middle school and Upper school. She was teacher of the year for academic 2012-2013. Currently she is the Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) for Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) for International Students and is the official Notary for APA. Ms. Hawana also teaches Upper School Geometry.
Ms. Aimen Ansari
DIRECTOR OF SEL
Ms. Aimen Ansari, holds a Master’s degree in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.A. in Literary Studies and Education from the University of Texas at Dallas. She has over 18 years of teaching, mentoring, and curriculum development experience. She is also the one of lead authors and original developers of the I Love Islam elementary textbook series. Ms. Aimen taught secondary English at two other Islamic schools previously, after which she joined APA to teach from 2015-2018. Ms. Aimen and her family lived abroad for a few years where she developed several SEL curricula and Mindfulness workshops. There, she also worked with teams of principals, teachers, psychologists and mental health professionals toward student success at a children’s hospital in Dubai. She rejoined the APA as the Director of Social and Emotional Learning in 2021. In her new role, she is passionate about the space where Muslim spirituality and psychology intersect. Ms. Aimen works with students and teachers to grow their emotional and social intelligence, character awareness, and related practices.
Mr. Alex Pritchard
DIRECTOR OF ADMISSION
Mr. Alex Pritchard comes to APA from Westwood High School in Austin where he was the Director of Forensics since 2002. He graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Economics, and later attended the University of Nebraska for graduate work in Communication Studies. He obtained a Masters degree in Communication Studies from Baylor University in Waco, TX. He has worked for the past 37 years at several public and private schools as Director of Forensics. His students have been admitted to many of the most prestigious universities in the country. He has numerous teaching and coaching awards to his credit, including Speech Teacher of the Year by the Nebraska Speech Teachers Association, Debate Coach of the Year by Nebraska Coaches Association, and Baccalaureate Speaker and Teacher of the Year awards at the Creighton Preparatory School. He has been inducted into Coach Society Hall of Fame at Emory University, and the University of Kentucky. His professional associations include Kappa Delta Pi, National Forensic League Double Diamond Coach, and the National Debate Coaches Association. He has given presentations at several conventions and universities nationwide. Speech and debate teams coached by Alex have won at every major tournament in the country including Harvard Round Robin, Stanford Round Robin, and the University of Texas Round Robin. He has authored several publications in industry publications and journals. He has been ranked among the Top 10 Debate Coaches of the Century.
> Administrative Team Biographies
Ms. Afifa Shaikh
MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATE
Ms. Afifa Shaikh joined APA in 2018 as a part-time teacher assistant and part-time administrator, however, she quickly transitioned into her current role. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Integrative Biology and Health Science in 2007 from the University of Toronto and then her Bachelors in Primary -Junior Education in 2009 from Trent University. Her lead teacher classroom experience post graduation provides her with the real-world application of her skills as an educator. Throughout her teaching career in Canada, she worked with Pre-K through Middle School-aged students as a lead teacher. After moving to Austin, a local business hired her as the Operations Manager where she spent two years handling administrative items, including marketing and outreach. Her newfound role at APA will allow her to utilize both her teaching experience and administrative backgrounds. Furthermore since 2019, Ms. Afifa has also transitioned into her role as Instructional Coach working primarily with Lower School teaching staff focusing on assessing/aligning lower school instruction, facilitating its’ ongoing growth, and bringing evidence-based practices into the classroom by working with teachers and administration.
Ms. Tamara Al-Emoush
This space will be updated shortly.
Ms. Wiam Dahrouj
This space will be updated shortly.