Q&A: PhiladelphiaUnion.com catches up with YSC Academy Head of School Dr. Nooha Ahmed-Lee

Visions for YSC Academy coming from its new Head of School

Doctor Ahmed-Lee

Photo Credit: 
YSC Academy

Nooha Ahmed-Lee’s approach to the modern day student athlete is refreshingly progressive, innovative and debunks a lot of the myths about how the minds of students function and operate.

Her way is anything but the norm.

It’s why she was named the headmaster of a start-up institution that is anything but normal. Earlier this year, Ahmed-Lee who holds a doctorate in professional education was named the head of YSC Academy, the new school that directly benefits the Union’s youth developmental academy. Dr. Ahmed-Lee sat down with philadelphiaunion.com to provide an interesting perspective into her philosophy.

Part one of this two-part Q&A series, delves into Ahmed-Lee’s aspirations for the Academy. Part II to run Thursday, will examine the typical day of a student at YSC Academy.

philadelphiaunion.com: Can you just talk about what was so exciting for you to jump into this new venture with YSC Academy?

Dr. Nooha Ahmed-Lee: Sure, having been in tremendous independent schools in the area: Shipley, Penn Charter, Chestnut Hill Academy, I’ve always been fortunate to be at great schools. And so my job in great schools is to be able to take current research and really make them better for kids. And so the opportunity to do that from scratch here meant everything to me, because it was about re-envisioning and recreating something that I thought that needed to happen in high schools.

PU.com: And what was that?

Ahmed-Lee: Really paying attention to an environment where kids felt that they were agents in their own learning. And the size of the school, connection to the soccer, and the connection to the brain and how it works in a learning space, an how it works on the field, and how that is the same thing, in terms of higher level skills is something that I felt like allowed us to capitalize on how to make the best students possible, and the best athletes.

PU.com:  You now have a core group of 33 students, obviously looking to expand that as the years go on. In a school of this size, will that be something that is actually possible to do? Because right now 33 seem like the perfect fit, but once you look into next year, you may have 50, you may have 60, so what’s the current plan to grow and still keep intrinsic instruction possible.

Ahmed-Lee: Yeah, the school is designed to possibly be about 60 kids, and so, we want the school to maintain that size, so we are really able to provide that small class size that we have. And also to be able to create a community culture that transcends with the Union and the club teams and be able to really capitalize on those kids doing the best on the field and in the classroom.

PU.com: What do you see from the kids that have started so far? You’ve had interactions with these kids, are they excited? Are they kind of anxious to see what it is all going to be about?

Ahmed-Lee: I think that every child I spoke to is extremely excited to be here. They love soccer; they are equally excited to be a part of this YSC academy. I am not really sure if they know exactly what they are getting into, and I think one thing they are going to find in a small environment like this, that is designed in this way, is it’s much better than they could have anticipated. I think the camaraderie and relationships that are going to be formed with the kids and the coaches here are very similar to those that are going to be formed with the teachers. I think that is really going to leverage their feeling of ownership of the program and the building.

Part II: The typical day of a student at YSC Academy; Thursday.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com