Hard to imagine but it’s true. The Learning Tree has been in existence for twenty years and today is one of the leading IB and Cambridge Schools in the nation. What began as a two room early education center is now a two campus education marvel housing 830 students, 140 faculty and staff and countless memories.
Although the official anniversary does not arrive until January 24, 2020, Ms. Naila thought that the first of many celebrations planned should take place at the Senior School End of Term Party and what a party it was!
Trying to keep anything a secret from the Head of School is almost impossible, but thanks to some clandestine activities of Sir Jamshid’s Secret Society (Zayn, Misbah and Student Council Chambers), we managed to keep most of the agenda items a secret from the usually inquisitive Ms. Naila.
Her first surprise was the arrival of her family and we were thrilled to have her two brothers Shahpur and Feroze along with their respective spouses and children present with us. Her sister Lyla and her favorite niece Amaani along with her two beautiful kids Rehan and Aliha set the tone for the evening which was complete and unconditional love for this amazing leading lady.
True to her promise of always having her gates and hearts open to all her graduates, we were honored and so blessed to have members of the last four graduating classes. It naturally had to begin with the leader of the Class of 2016, Rafay Ibrahim who spoke so eloquently about what TLT and Ms. Naila has meant to him and his brother Kabeer. The Class of 2017 was represented by the always elegant Muskaan Khoso who thanked herb teachers for setting the foundations for her to pursue her law degree. Perhaps the closest group of seniors was the class of 2018 and former Head Girl and Head Boy, Abeera Faisal and Humza Salman gave a very touching speech thanking members of admin and the faculty for always being there for them. Our final alumnus was Marwah Dawood from our most recent graduating class. In typical Marwah fashion, she reminded our current students to truly enjoy every moment at TLT, because it’s a place like no other.
After a musical video tribute to our alumni, we turned to our current senior school classes and our legacy students, Fatima Salman (grade VII), Umaima Muzammil (Grade VIII), Fatima Kazi (Grade IX), Saamia Nanjian (Grade X), Mustafa Sabir and Ibrahim Abassi (Grade XI) all spoke beautifully about what this place and the people meant to them. The common theme in all their words was that this is indeed a special place because everyone is treated with the utmost respect and given a sense of responsibility for themselves, others and the world they inhabit. The sense of belonging, inclusion and acceptance resonated in all their words but they also noted that they enjoyed the challenges and opportunities that have all been given to grow every day not only academically, but athletically, socially, emotionally and spiritually. It became clear that the soul and the heart were equally if not more important than the mind, for knowledge is not intelligence and wisdom unless it is beneficial for the well being of all living things including inhabiting our vulnerable planet.
A school is only as strong as its teachers and leaders and we paid tribute to all our faculty members in all three sections. It is truly a unique group of educators who understand and believe in the school’s purpose which is to inspire to learn, the courage to lead and the commitment to excellence. Our Head Girl, Sheezal Feroze summed it up beautifully when she said, “our teachers are not subject matter experts, they are experts on what matters to the students.”
Ms. Samina Ashraf – teacher, coordinator, parent and administrator was the perfect choice to pay tribute to our beloved leader and all that she stands for. She thanked Ms. Naila for always being there to support and encourage everyone to be the best possible version of themselves and went onto say that she would not think of any other school for her two most precious assets – her sons Saad and Rayaan.
The official festivities ended with an incredibly emotional Naila Jamall fighting back tears, thanking everyone present for all their time, effort, dedication, loyalty and love that they show every single day towards the most important people in our lives – our amazing students.
Once the tears dried up, the bonfire was lit and dinner was served. Everyone enjoyed the delicious food – biryani, kabobs, chicken boti, paratha and halva. Any thoughts of the proposed karaoke was scrapped as our Class of 2020 lead everyone onto the dance floor for 90 minutes of sheer joy and pandemonium.
Twenty years is truly a wonderful milestone and having a celebration to match the intensity and commitment of the school, its faculty and leadership is no small task, but thanks to so many people, we managed to truly create a magical night which will not be forgotten for years to come.