Beyond the Hijab

The school district I teach in does a “transfair” towards the end of each school year, giving current employees the opportunity to interview for other schools they are interested in transferring to. This year, due to moving and ending up with a long commute, I decided to attend the transfair in hopes that I would get a teaching job at a school closer to home.

Although in the same county and school district, the school I currently teach at and the schools I am interviewing for are very different. The main difference is the demographics and cultural diversity. The school I currently teach at has a high Muslim population, including a number of Muslim teachers. As I did my research on prospective schools, I started to feel nervous that the principals wouldn’t see beyond my hijab. How would they judge me? What assumptions would they make?

I juggled with my options then persevered and called up six schools for interviews.  I ended up with interview times with four out of the six. My worries returned. Did the other two judge me by my foreign name? Why else wouldn’t they give me a chance? My resume meets, if not exceeds, the vacant positions that need to be filled at their schools. I tried to get over the two schools, though, and focus on the four that I had interviews with.

Alhamdulillah, the interviews went great! From the start, I felt warmth from each principal. We engaged in deep, meaningful conversations (as opposed to the intimidating question-answer interview). And by the end of the week, I heard back from all four principals. They all wanted me at their school! Out of at least a hundred (it seemed) interviewees (for only two positions at each of the four schools), they all wanted me! They were able to look beyond the hijab after all. Or did they not? Did the hijab actually play a positive role? I don’t know if I’d be able to ever know that answer, but Alhamdulillah that Allah had them see me for who I actually am and the teacher that I can be to students.

Now I need to pick a school! Each principal invited me back to meet the team (grade level) that I will be working with. I will pray istikhara that Allah guides me and gives me comfort towards the one that is best for me.

Hoda is a wife and a mother to a stillborn daughter in heaven and a one year old son. She is an elementary school teacher in public school and lives in Virginia.

Chronicles of a School Seeker Part III will be published on Thursday inshaAllah.

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