Ms. Akhtar Brings Parental Voice and a Smiley Face to Hillcrest
By Shakilur Rahman, Junior Writer
“I am the smiley face of Hillcrest,” says Ms. Akhtar, Hillcrest’s amazing Parent Coordinator who always offers incoming students and parents a smile and warm greeting.
Ms. Akhtar entered Hillcrest High School around two years ago. The parent coordinator is the person that acknowledges and manages parent concerns and informs students about opportunities and notifications on future events to come. They not only have to appeal to the parents and convince them to become more involved with their kids, but they also coordinate many events within the school such as workshops or ceremonies.
At the arrival of the new principal, many things changed within the parameters of Hillcrest. For the first time in a while, new additions of teachers and staff were hired. During this time, Ms. Akhtar was hired to fill in as the new Parent Coordinator. Once she joined Hillcrest, she used her abilities to help make the parents much more involved, since previously, parents would normally not show up for any of the events. Her plans worked, and the new involvement of parents led to students getting more serious in both getting better grades in high school and getting ready for college. This not only changed the students’ lives, but it also allowed parents to become closer and bond with their kids.
Ms. Akhtar was around ten when she came from Pakistan. She has a Bachelors Degree in Science and attended the Ramapo College of New Jersey. She gained many skills along the way. She is able to comprehend 3 languages, including Urdu, Punjabi, and Hindi. Before her arrival at Hillcrest, most of the school’s workshops received very few parents; but by redesigning how to engage parents, the workshops almost doubled in parent involvement. School counselor Ms. Dejean explains that Ms. Akhtar is always busy and receiving phone calls from parents. She remarked, “I constantly hear about how much work she is doing, and how well the parents have responded to her.”
In order for Ms. Akhtar to achieve this, she had to be an innovator and invent new workshops. One of these workshops is called “Dad’s Day at Hillcrest High School.” Ms. Akhtar realized a paradigm where only moms would show up to workshops and events. She then created this workshop to get dads more involved so that the students can get the full attention of both of their parents, and not just their mother. She helps students by motivating their dads by giving an award every year to the dad who had made the most impact on their kid. She explains that she closely follows a motto by Mahatma Gandhi in which “every home is a university and the parents are the teachers.”
Although Ms. Akhtar serves as a navigator to parents, she also coordinates several events as well. She is usually busy hosting awards, counseling students, or informing students and parents on future events to come through use of the PupilPath website. Her ability to comprehend 3 languages also became useful when Hillcrest started receiving a lot of immigrants, where parents needed help in administering their kids. Even the parents that were not considering Hillcrest came to Ms. Akhtar for help because of her communication skills. In addition, she sometimes counsels students even though they have their own guidance counselor to go to.
Many of the students at Hillcrest constantly have questions and problems. Ms. Akhtar has an e-mail to answer these questions and even sends notices on upcoming events. This allows students the ability to plan ahead of time; usually for the SATs, Regents, or Finals. She also notifies students on possible colleges they can apply to, regents prep classes, and award ceremonies to reward well-performing students. All of this is used to make sure the students will have many opportunities before they head out to college, and that the number of obstacles the students will have to face in the future will be minimal.
In addition to the students, the staff of Hillcrest also greatly appreciates the amount of work done by Ms. Akhtar. AP Counselor Mr. Michalos stated that “Ms. Akhtar is one of the most kindest and caring person I’ve ever known...hiring her was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done and I can’t imagine what it would be like without her.”
Mr. Michalos is right. Ms. Akhtar uses all of her abilities to ensure the students will achieve to the best of their abilities, or at least have the opportunities to expand their growth. She is currently researching non-profit organizations to help students with college planning. She emphasizes the use of technology and plans on expanding it further within Hillcrest. This would allow education to be up-to date with the students themselves, who share their best and brightest moments when using technology.
At the end of the day Ms. Akhtar’s efforts to help out students is untraversable. Bilquees Akhtar is available for contact in room 116 or at email@example.com.
MAH WINS NYT SCHOLARSHIP