Arabic Immersion Magnet School

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Arabic Immersion Magnet School

Arabic Immersion Magnet School (AIMS) is a magnet school in the Houston Heights area of Houston, Texas. A part of the Houston Independent School District, it currently covers elementary school grades. Its campus previously housed Holden Elementary School and the Energy Institute High School. It uses a grant from the Qatar Foundation,[1] and it is one of the first Arabic language immersion schools in the United States.[2] It is a part of HISD's efforts to increase the number of bilingual students.[2] Mahassen Ballouli became principal in Summer 2017 after the founding Principal, Kate Adams, left.


On Thursday November 14, 2014 the HISD Board of Education approved the establishment of the school.[3] The board approval was unanimous, and at the time there were no protesters. In May 2015 around 12 people complained about the future school to the HISD board.[4]

The district planned to upgrade the heating and cooling systems, restrooms, lighting, and technology of the former Holden building.[5]

490 applications for 132 slots for students were submitted.[4] The school opened on Monday August 24, 2015 with 130 students,[6] all in preschool and kindergarten.[7] The school has plans to create one new grade level each year.[8] The school ultimately plans to have the fifth grade as the highest level.[5]

On the opening day a group of about 30 protesters gathered around the school,[6] accusing it of being anti-American and hindering assimilation.[4]


Each student spends half of his or her day learning in English and the other half learning in Arabic. The school focuses on Modern Standard Arabic after an HISD cross-functional team deemed that it should do so.[7] However, the school has now changed tack and has applied for IB (International Baccalaureate) status,[9] causing for a rewrite of the school's curriculum. Hence, there is now no set curriculum and no textbooks being utilized. Instead, teachers come in early every morning to work up the lessons for the day. Students are encouraged to engage in "authentic learning", so the school also uses no worksheets nor does it assign homework. The IB authorization process takes two to three years[10], and it is expected that a new curriculum will have been developed by that time.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "VIDEO: HISD opens new Arabic Immersion Magnet School" (Archive). Fox Houston. Retrieved on August 31, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Mitchell, Corey. "Houston to Open Arabic Immersion Elementary School." Education Week. December 12, 2014. Retrieved on August 31, 2015.
  3. ^ Mellon, Ericka. "HISD okays Arabic immersion schools." Houston Chronicle. November 13, 2014. Retrieved on August 31, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Baddour, Dylan and Ericka Mellon. "Protesters at Houston's Arabic Immersion Magnet School on first day of class" (Archive). Houston Chronicle. Monday August 24, 2015. Retrieved on August 31, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "HISD proposes new Arabic Language Immersion Magnet to meet needs of culturally diverse city" (Archive). Houston Independent School District. November 7, 2014. Retrieved on September 1, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Mitchell, Corey. "Critics Protest Opening of Houston Arabic Immersion Elementary School." Education Week. August 24, 2015. Retrieved on August 31, 2015.
  7. ^ a b Hernandez, Haley. "Protest held against new Arabic school in HISD" (Archive). KHOU-TV. August 24, 2015. Retrieved on August 31, 2015.
  8. ^ "HISD Board of Education approves creation of Arabic Language Immersion Magnet School" (Archive). Houston Independent School District. November 13, 2014. Retrieved on September 1, 2015.
  9. ^ "International Baccalaureate (IB) Candidate School / International Baccalaureate". Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  10. ^ "Authorization timeline". International Baccalaureate®. Retrieved 2018-03-06.

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Coordinates: 29°48′42″N 95°24′46″W / 29.8116°N 95.4129°W / 29.8116; -95.4129