Iqra first grade teacher embraces new culture

ROCKFORD (WREX) – Haley Gleitz-Helt is a first-grade teacher at Iqra School in Rockford, and she is teaching her students are learning about different cultures, which is something she is very familiar with.

Iqra is an Islamic private school in Rockford. Administrator and teacher Ezziyeh Gheith said Gleitz-Helt has taken the initiative to learn about Islamic culture and religion.

“She would go get a book from a library and research online and get books in English on the Quran, and she would remind the students, and first graders need to reminded of things in our culture and our religion and she would remind them,” Gheith said.

Gheith said she was very impressed when she learned that Gleitz-Helt was reminding students to do their religious rituals. On top of being dedicated to the student’s culture, she is dedicated to making sure each student is well-attended to.

“She’s there for the kids from the beginning to the end of the day,” Gheith said. “When it’s time to go home she won’t go home until the last student goes home. I told her ‘you can go’ and she said ‘no, I won’t leave until the last student goes home.'”

Gleitz-Helt takes a one-on-one approach to everything in her classroom, from behavior, to student goals, and academics.

“I work each student individually, we work at their level, I push everyone to succeed, I don’t think anyone should be set up for failure,” Gletiz-Helt said. “And I also make sure that they know that they all will succeed and go far in life.”

She said first grade is the time for students to learn independence and responsibility. She instills this by letting the students “own their own academics.”

She lets them set their own goals and she assists in achieving them.

“I also make sure that they are gaining independence and responsibility. That’s our biggest first grade non-academic goal. Before they hit second grade I want them to be independent, as in they are turning in homework without being reminded,” Gleitz-Helt said.

Gheith said the first graders love their teacher and they are very comfortable asking her for anything.

“They know she’ll be there and she’ll help them. If they’re lost they won’t go to the teacher next to them, they’ll look for her, they want her,” Gheith said.


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