Despite being a professional educator for more than 12 years, Buthiana Jwayyed admits that education did not come easy for her. “My parents were immigrants who wanted to preserve their traditions and culture. They believed a woman’s place was in the house, as a mother and wife,” she explains. “That pushed me to focus on my education. I maintained an A+ average and participated in cultural youth programs at Muslim institutions to prove to my parents that I could embrace my culture and do so much more.”
And her quest for knowledge has brought her from Brooklyn, where she earned a master’s degree in Education from NYU, to Oklahoma, where she currently serves as the Middle/High School Assistant Principal of Mercy School Institute in Edmond. A fully-accredited educational institution committed to educating American Muslim citizens, Mercy School has a student population of more than 200 in grades Pre3–10th grade.
Buthiana is also learning about keeping her family close despite a long-distance separation, as her husband and three of her children are currently living in Qatar. “Ironically, it has made us even closer,” she explains. “There are more emotions expressed. We Skype, Facetime, text and communicate on Instagram constantly.” The family hopes to reunite this June.
Here’s more about how the 38-year-old mother of six strives to continue her lifelong quest to learn, while also inspiring an education for those around her.
How has motherhood changed you?
Motherhood forced me to refine my convictions and be strong in the face of adversity. I am now a role model and know that my thoughts and actions will seep into my children.
How do you banish stress?
Through baking and/or having a movie night with my children. I love to find a new recipe and sit around the kitchen table, joking and laughing.
What inspires you?
My daughters. It’s so important they understand that although being a woman is difficult at times, it is rewarding. I want them to understand that we can juggle it all; however it requires a strong support system and constant introspection.
Along with your job as a mom, what do you do?
In addition to my responsibilities at Mercy School I am also a counselor for Youth LEAD (Leaders Engaging Across Differences) a non-profit organization dedicated to mobilizing youth to build trust and understanding across differences. I am also a member of the Religions United committee, which works to encourage open dialogue about our perceptions, concerns and misunderstandings of other religions.
What do you like most about your job?
I have an extremely supportive administration and board. My students and colleagues are amazed at how I’m always smiling. What they don’t realize is that they’re the source of my smile—it’s teaching them that makes my day.
What is on your wish list?
A trip to Spain and Turkey to visit the ancient mosques, and a day at the spa.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my education.
What motivates you?
My children. I want them to be sincere and productive members of society; therefore, I must be their blueprint.
How do you find balance in your life?
I often reflect on what I want, where I want to go and why. I peel to the core of my inner voice until I understand myself better.
Advice for other moms?
Be consistent with your kids, yet flexible. Negotiate the negotiable and remain steadfast with the nonnegotiable.
What’s the biggest challenge in your life?
I’m such a perfectionist; I wish I could give 150 percent. It’s a challenge to stop and say 90–95 percent is okay.
How do you help others?
I love to babysit my friends’ children, drive car pool—anything that will help give a person some relief.
What is your parenting style?
It depends on the situation and the child. With one, I am flexible and communicative; with the other, I may be more authoritative.
Favorite quote or advice about motherhood?
Enjoy your children because they grow quickly.
Quick Facts About Buthiana
- What are four words that describe you? Funny, hardworking, outgoing and loyal.
- What’s your favorite indulgence? Haagen-Dazs Almond Bars and chocolate chip cookie dough.
- Who’s on your playlist? Carrie Underwood, Adele and Kelly Clarkson.
- What’s your favorite meal to make for dinner? Maklooba, a Palestinian rice dish with fried cauliflower and eggplant.
- What’s always in your handbag? Moisturizer and dental floss.
Brooke Barnett is the Assistant Editor of MetroFamily Magazine.