Hijabi of the Month August - Ranya Samara
Posted on Aug 28, 2016
This month's HOTM was nominated by a friend who had this to say about her,
"Ranya is an incredible teacher who stops at nothing to shape the lives of so many students. I am constantly inspired by all she does for her family, her friends, and her students. As a high school math teacher in a public school, she represents Islam and hijab so beautifully on a daily basis, so much so that she was selected by her school as "Best Dressed" teacher for last year's yearbook superlatives. This feature by the Wake County Public School System says it all."
Ranya Samara was born in Kuwait and moved to North Carolina around the age of three. She attended Al-Iman school throughout elementary and middle school and then went to Athens Drive High school. After that, she completed her bachelor's degree in mathematics education from NC State University. She taught math at Knightdale High School for a few years and now teaches at Panther Creek High School. Ranya currently lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband, Ehab, and are expecting a baby girl this November inshallah.
1) When did you start wearing hijab? Tell us a little about your journey.
I started wearing hijab at the age of 11 years old in the sixth grade. Back then, I was attending our community school in Raleigh, Al-Iman School, and we wore hijab to school. Our teachers not only wore hijab, but also helped us understand the importance of hijab and why we are required to wear hijab. They explained to us that hijab was not just a head-covering that covers our hair, but a reflection of our devotion to Allah. At that time, many of my friends began wearing hijab and these are still the same friends who have been, and continue to be, the most positive influences in my life.
2) You are a high school math teacher at a public school - tell us what inspired you to become a teacher.
Going through high school, I had two amazing math teachers that not only treated me with respect and love, but also loved math and teaching it. Their love for it was truly contagious in the classroom and I ended up falling in love with the beauty of mathematics. They inspired me to become a math teacher myself in hopes of inspiring more students to love math. I live to see those AHA moments in class when I am helping a student. And when parents tell me that their child is enjoying math for the first time in their life, or when their child understands what’s going on in a math class for the first time, it reminds me that all the work I put into teaching my students is worth the effort.
3) You have successfully motivated you students to learn, and learn to love math! What is the most important thing you've learned from your students and what's the key to getting them engaged?
My students have taught me so much. Typically, most people see school as the teacher teaches and the students learn. However, what most people don’t know, is how much teachers learn as teachers. I have learned that not everyone learns in the same manner. There are different learning styles and a good teacher is one that is able to meet the needs of all their students and their different learning styles. But most of all, I’ve learned to never forget that as a teacher, you may be the only person who reminds a student that day that they are loved and they are cared for.
4) You were voted "Best Dressed Teacher!" As a professional, what are your fave go-to professional looks and where do you shop for them?
My favorite go-to style that I like wearing to work is a solid flowy shirt with a colorful/patterned Haute Hijab to match with it, some solid pants, and flats. I love shopping at LOFT, especially when they’ve got an extra discount on their sale items. As for accessories, I am always at Francesca’s looking for the perfect necklace to complete any outfit. I love their necklaces!
5) What is one statement or motto you live by?
One motto that I live by is “The mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates, the great teacher inspires.”
6) If you could give one piece of advice to someone struggling with hijab, what would it be?
If someone out there is struggling with hijab, I would like to tell them that struggling with hijab is absolutely normal, especially living in this society, it’s not always easy. However, keeping in mind that wearing hijab is our daily jihad that we do for the sake of Allah is enough to endure the struggles that come along with wearing hijab. Allah has blessed us with beyond what our mind can even comprehend. Wearing the hijab is just one of the few things that Allah asks from us and to be honest, enduring the struggles that come with wearing hijab is the least we can do to repay him for all that he has blessed us with.
Do you have someone you'd like to nominate to be our Hijabi of the Month? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org!