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Portland’s Islamic Preschool Program Offers High-Quality Early Learning, Connects Students to Culture & Community

Jawad Khan Blog

by Rafael Otto



On this segment of The Early Link Podcast, host Rafael Otto talks with Jawad Khan, chief programming officer at Muslim Educational Trust and a member of the Trust’s board of directors. 


Jawad Khan has spent 22 years with Muslim Educational Trust as a teacher, college counselor, and administrator, and previously worked in the tech industry. Khan is based in Beaverton, Oregon and is an advocate for expanding preschool in Washington County.


Khan shares about the Muslim Educational Trust, including how many students served, the importance of preschool in their focus, and Khan’s own personal experiences with the children he has worked with. He also talks about how the Trust acts as a cultural navigator, why a culturally-specific approach is effective in education, and addresses some of the challenges for students who are not in a culturally-specific setting. Tying into this, Khan brings up how the school addresses anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim sentiments with students. Khan also discusses his work to expand preschool in Washington County, detailing progress and what he hopes to accomplish. 


[00:00:00] Rafael Otto: Hello everyone. This is the Early Link Podcast. I’m Rafael Otto. You can catch us on 99.1 FM in the Portland Metro on Sundays at 4:30pm or tune in at your convenience, wherever you find your podcasts. That includes iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and Amazon Music and as always on our website at, where you can subscribe to our podcasts and our newsletter and learn more about our work in Oregon.

My guest today is Jawad Khan the chief programming officer at the Muslim Educational Trust and a member of the Trust’s board of directors. He has spent 22 years with the Trust as a teacher, college counselor, and administrator, and previously worked in the high-tech industry. He’s based in Beaverton, Oregon, and is an advocate for expanding preschool in Washington county,

Jawad, it’s great to have you here today.

[00:00:50] Jawad Khan: Thank you so much, Rafael. It’s a real pleasure to be here and looking forward to the conversation.

[00:00:55] Rafael Otto: I am too. And I would love to just start with more about your background. I know that you worked in the high-tech industry. You worked in the startup environment for a while, founded a company, and now you’ve been in the education world for more than two decades. Tell us about that background and how you came to the trust.

[00:01:12] Jawad Khan: Well, you know, I think it’s a little bit of a serendipitous journey. I think I look at it that way at least. I didn’t intend to work in the nonprofit and educational world when I started out. My parents immigrated here from India in the early seventies. I lived across the United States in multiple cities. Texas, California, Ohio, Colorado, Washington, South Carolina. I think a couple others I’m missing right now.

[00:01:37] Rafael Otto: All over!

[00:01:38] Jawad Khan: All over, all over. So I got to see a lot of great places. And I came to Oregon in the early nineties and finished high school here and went to college. I was going to, and I did actually, go out and work in the high-tech industry for a bit and then I started my own startup, as you mentioned, and with my friends from college, and we wind up selling that. And I was going to go to business school maybe after that. But I received an email from the Muslim Educational Trust, asking if I would like to teach. And really something like this organization and it’s very unique and the way that it addresses holistically, a lot of the challenges that the immigrant refugee population faces in a new world. I would have loved to be part of such an organization or be part of such a school when I was growing up. So I decided to defer business school and go and teach and I’ve been here ever since. And it’s been a real pleasure and a real joy to be part of this, and has also given me that experience about how much difference education can make.

[00:02:43] Rafael Otto: Tell me more about the trust. You have preschool classrooms all the way through grade 12. How many students do you serve? Tell me more about what your school looks like.

Please download the full transcript below.


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