Administrative Team Biographies
Head of School/Principal Diana Abdi, M. Ed, 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.
Head of Academics – 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. He joined APA in 2009.
Director of Finance – Ms. 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. She joined APA in 2008.
Director of Facility and IT – Ms. Hala Khalil, CGA, completed her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from McGill University. Her extensive background in office management at various Islamic schools in the US makes her an invaluable asset to APA. She worked previously at Ibn Seena Academy in Orlando, FL, the Islamic Center of Washington in Seattle, and Medina Academy in Redmond, WA. She served both administrative and accounting roles at the Islamic schools, as well as helping maintain other programs, such as meal programs. Before joining APA, she worked at Wells Fargo Bank as a lead teller and manager. She joined APA in 2015.
Admission Associate and Registrar – Ms. Halima Kamara joined APA in 2010. Over the years, she has served in different capacities at APA and settled into the role of Admission Associate in 2014. Ms. Kamara is in charge of the admission procedures, maintaining the database of all information related to admissions. She is currently simultaneously completing her degree.
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 for the three years 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 students through Middle School-aged students, serving as the lead teacher for Pre-K for three years and then tutoring for two years. 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.
Social Worker/Counselor – Ms. Reem Zohny completed her Bachelors degree in Psychology with a minor in Religious Studies from SUNY Stony Brook in 2013. She then went on to the Bayyinah Dream program from 2013-2014 in Irving, TX. After, Ms. Reem returned to New York and took up an active role leading the Youth Group at the Islamic center of Long Island, where she helped design and execute programming specific for Muslim youth and connected with students through these activities and through serving as a MIST coach. Ms. Reem returned to the classroom and received her Masters degree in Social Work from Columbia University in 2019. During her time at the University, she completed internships working within a school district, counseling students and the next year, worked at New York’s division of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Ms. Reem holds her Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) certification. Her valuable and diverse background will offer a fresh dynamic to the APA community. She joined APA in 2019.