The Mission Chronicle

The Student News Site of Mission High School

The Mission Chronicle

The Mission Chronicle

The heart of the Arabic community at Mission High School

Alejandra Flores Aguilar
Dr. Herzallah

Dr. Herzallah wakes up to his alarm and sees that it’s 4am. He gets up and starts to get ready for the day. He gets in the car hoping that traffic won’t be too intense today unlike the other days. On his way to school he starts to think about his classes for the day and what he last talked about with his students during lunch. Once he gets to school he goes up three floors to his classroom on the fourth floor and starts to prep. 

Growing up in Jordan was fun, according to Dr. Herzallah. He enjoyed his childhood but he always had responsibilities as the oldest out of his 8 siblings. He had to be the role model so he never had a wild life and he had to play by the rules. 

Dr. Herzallah’s middle name is Monadel, and in his generation people used to name their kids about whatever situation was happening around them. So many boys and girls his age would be called “Kifah”, which is his sister’s name and means “struggle” in Arabic. This was because they live in a third world country so they were always struggling for self-determination and for liberation. His name means “struggler” or “worrier” so he has always carried that with him since birth. He’s always joked about that. People he meets asks him if his name is a code name. To him, his name is like a task for him; his parents gave him both a name and a permanent task. 

He says: “I always feel I am with the little guy, with the disadvantaged, with the minorities, with the people of color that are struggling for a better life or for a better world.” 

Working in the unions really affected him to see himself as fitting in at Mission High and feels like he couldn’t fit in anywhere else better than he does at Mission. 

He went to Sacramento State because of his uncle, where he got his undergraduate degree, and then moved to San Francisco and started to look for a job. He has had several jobs before coming to Mission High School  like working in restaurants to pay for school, working at a coffee shop, and having his own insurance agency!

Then in the 90’s, he started to work for the labor movement. He worked for the healthcare workers union and for the service employees union and was part of a team. He would never refer to it as something he did “by himself,” but as part of a group as collective work. Later, he started to work with the school employee union which is where he started to learn more about the schools. 

Eventually, he worked as an Arab professional at International High School in Potrero Hill. Being there, he was surrounded by many immigrants from different backgrounds. While he was working there, he heard others talking about Arabic programs and then he started working with the multilingual pathway department where he had the opportunity to start an after school Arabic program at Mission High School. While teaching an after school program was tough, the fact that the job was created because of students’ interest made him content. 

Dr. Herzallah chose to teach at Mission because it’s in the heart of the city and because he’s familiar with both the neighborhoods and the communities at Mission. He feels that Mission offers a lot of help and serves a lot of communities that are in need.  He really liked that he blended in and felt part of the team when he first started working here. 

If you see Dr. Herzallah in the halls, he might greet you with a nice smile. Don’t be shy to say hello!

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Mission Chronicle

Your donation will support the student journalists of Mission High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Mission Chronicle

Comments (0)

All The Mission Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *