Saint Paul’s East African Magnet College concludes its first yr with celebration, reflection

Photograph by Chris Juhn College students at East African Magnet College with their certificates throughout a faculty meeting

It was a energetic Friday afternoon as college students, dad and mom and lecturers gathered collectively within the gymnasium for the final quarterly awards ceremony at East African Magnet College in St. Paul. East African Magnet College, situated on the nook of Edmund Ave. and Arundel St. in Frogtown, is the nation’s first faculty devoted to educating youngsters of East African origin. 

College students have been referred to as up by their grade and with the accomplishment that they have been being acknowledged for. The ceremony got here sooner or later after the college’s fifth grade commencement, all serving as a marker to the top of the college’s first faculty yr.  

Saint Paul Public Colleges reached out to Dr. Abdisalam Adam, a veteran educator within the district, to open a faculty devoted to the district’s giant Somali inhabitants following a long time of declining enrollment and requests from dad and mom. 

Dr. Adam’s lifelong dedication to studying started at a time when he lived within the countryside of the Somali area in Ethiopia. His older brother, having returned from travels, took it upon himself to take Adam again with him to Nigeria the place he can be educated. 

Years later, Adam would journey to Saudi Arabia and obtain his bachelor’s diploma in English, which then took him to america in 1991. 


As soon as settled in, Adam moved to Minnesota the place he started a profession in schooling, first at Al Amal College in Fridley, ultimately discovering himself at SPPS in 1997. There he started working as an English as a Second Language instructor and liaison with dad and mom. Now, 28 years later, Adam has completed his first yr because the principal of East African Magnet, a actuality he and others couldn’t envision a long time in the past. 

Although the college was first introduced in Might of final yr, the need to see a culturally inclusive faculty within the district had been round for years. Previous to opening the college, Adam had labored as an assistant principal at Highland Senior Excessive for 5 years. the place he labored carefully alongside dad and mom to listen to their feedback and issues concerning the schooling of their youngsters. 

The Somali Father or mother Advisory Council, an affiliate group of district dad and mom that meets bimonthly to debate district-wide wants for college students, had raised the proposition of an East African faculty again and again in accordance with Adam. This request for a culturally responsive faculty had reached the college’s superintendent, Joe Gathard, and college board members. 

“At any time when there’s a gathering, they all the time categorical the need for cultural language and state that our youngsters are dropping their language,” Adam mentioned. “After they have a report on the finish of the yr, they may all the time add the language and tradition piece.”

Recognizing this want from dad and mom, the district tasked Adam with laying the groundwork for creating a faculty. He started this journey by first conducting a feasibility examine to assist collect the knowledge and knowledge wanted to function the college. 


Between February and Might of 2023, Adam spoke with dad and mom and different educators from throughout town and state to study extra about what it could take to launch this faculty. They discovered that there have been roughly 1,400 college students that certified for the companies of the college, however many households had opted to enroll their youngsters in constitution colleges. 

East African Magnet College at present has round 220 college students enrolled whereas providing pre-Ok via fifth grade. There are about 20 licensed lecturers working within the faculty, most of them having transferred from different districts. Over half of the lecturers establish as East African. 

Maryan Aden is a kind of educators who had left her place at one other faculty to assist lay the inspiration at East African Magnet. She spent over 12 years working in constitution colleges, with six of them being within the classroom. Aden at present works as a studying lead the place she assists lecturers by serving to incorporate culturally related classes of their curriculum. 

Throughout her previous couple of years at her earlier faculty, Aden grew to become an educational coach serving to facilitate skilled growth for different lecturers and serving to them map out their coursework. 

As the primary faculty yr involves an in depth, Aden mirrored on the primary days on the faculty. “Once I first walked into the constructing, [I knew] there was loads to do,” she acknowledged. 


In serving to set the college up for achievement, Aden knew they needed to put collectively a schedule code, a curriculum code, and a reward system for college students to incentivize their studying. College students obtain language and cultural lessons as soon as per week in a rotational system. 

Aden works to reply questions from lecturers and different educators who usually search to seek out literature or coursework related to the educational and cultural growth of their college students. Aden and different East African lecturers work with their colleagues all through the day to reply these questions and be sure that college students are arrange for achievement via collaboration.

“Now we have an open door coverage the place they’re greater than welcome to come back and ask me a query,” she mentioned. “The identical with Dr. Adam, identical with our counselor Mohamed, the identical with the social employee. So it’s simply having the important thing folks being licensed.” 

Photograph by Chris Juhn Dr. Abdisalam Adam serves because the principal of East African Magnet College.
Photograph by Chris Juhn Abdirahman Abi together with his daughter Ayan shortly after she obtained an award on the faculty meeting

Abdirahman Abi arrived on the faculty on Friday to witness his daughter Ayaan win an award for her excellence in class. He had heard concerning the plans to open the college final yr and adopted up on extra info hoping to enroll his youngsters. 

“The principle motive why we got here is to rejoice the tradition and instill these values in our youngsters.” he mentioned of the songs and skits carried out by college students on the meeting. “You noticed their performances at the moment.” 


Idil Sheikh Ali had additionally heard concerning the faculty’s opening via phrase of mouth, although she had recognized Dr. Adam for some years. Her older youngsters attended Highland Senior Excessive whereas Adam was there as an administrator, so she was assured that any faculty he operated would profit her youngsters. 

“They’ve discovered about their language and tradition very properly together with their different research in arithmetic,” she mentioned. They’ve put in loads of effort and time into our youngsters. They welcome the dad and mom usually to really feel engaged. At any time when we have to get in contact with employees we’re capable of join and be heard.” 

Dr. Adam remarked that in all his years of educating, he hadn’t seen mother or father involvement at this degree till he labored at East African Magnet. 

As the college yr involves an finish, Adam and his group of educators look to increase their efforts within the new faculty yr as they take the teachings of the previous yr ahead with them. They plan to supply sixth grade within the coming faculty yr and have already got plans so as to add a further 100 college students, which might require that they transfer.  

Aden is worked up to have her daughter enrolled as a kindergartener this upcoming yr and constructing upon the success of the primary yr. “We’re going to begin the yr very sturdy as a result of we now have a stable basis. 

“We’re going to construct on that. We’re going to focus extra on coaching the lecturers, particularly in relation to social/emotional studying, constructing the arrogance of the children much more.”

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