8580 No 5 Road, Richmond, BC, V6Y 2V4 | Phone #: (604) 274-7861 

Our Team

Meet our Team 

School Board

Effective leadership, good governance, and professional collaboration are the bedrock of successful school system. At Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy, we are blessed to have a tremendous team that supports the mission and vision of our school, and deeply cares about all the stakeholders in the school community.

Our Teachers are

  • Certified in B.C
  • Involved regularly in Professional Dvelopment
  • Theya re committed, vibrant, and create a positive environment
  • Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy has dedicated leadership, fine teaching, enriched programming all offered in an environment rich with Islamic values and moral.

Below, please find the biographies for our team members-- both staff and board! 

Our Staff

Oscar Pozzolo has spent his entire career serving in faith-based Independent schools: 17 years as a teacher, 12 years as a principal, and currently into his 5th year at Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy. Mr. Pozzolo has a Bachelor degree in Physical Education from U.B.C., a Post Baccalaureate Diploma in Education from S.F.U., and a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Oregon. Mr. Pozzolo is a strong believer in faith and religious education in schools. He believes that if students are to function as globally competent citizens, their faith will have a profound impact on their development of social skills and their ability to form good friendships and healthy relationships with others. He feels blessed to be part of the AZIA team and looks forward to many more years together. Mr. Pozzolo has three sons, one a graduate from U.B.C., and two currently attending SFU.

Sr. Sukaina is a passionate educator who has been teaching in B.C. schools for almost 30 years. Prior to joining AZIA, she taught in the public system at both elementary and high school levels. Sr. Sukaina has had the pleasure of serving at AZIA since 2004 in various capacities including, teacher-on-call, grades 4-7 classroom teacher, Islamic Studies Coordinator, Learning Support Lead Teacher, Acting Principal in 2015 and since then, has assumed the role of Vice Principal and Head of the Learning Support/Special Education Department. She is a proud mother of three daughters and a son, all who attended AZIA and are currently pursuing post-secondary education. Sr. Sukaina enjoys baking, travelling, participating in faith-based events, exploring the natural beauty of Allah’s creations and spending time with her family and friends. She feels blessed and honoured with the opportunity afforded to her at AZIA to nurture the academic, social, emotional, and spiritual growth and confidence of the next generation of young Muslims

Aurélia Silva was born in France where she spent her childhood with her parents and sisters. She then moved to Portugal, her home country, where she did her studies at Coimbra University, one of the oldest University in the world. Aurélia has been in the Education field for over 25 years. When she moved to Vancouver, she attended Langara College and Vancouver Community College to pursue her career in Early Childhood Education. Aurélia has worked with all age groups but her passion is the little ones. This is her fifth year at the Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy as the Junior Kindergarten Head Teacher. Aurélia sees her students as her own and spends the day sharing love and smiles! She is passionate for the yearly years and feels blessed to be part of the life of her young students. Aurélia is also the Director of “Our Lady of Fatima Portuguese School “which operates on Saturdays and serves the Portuguese community, teaching children from Preschool to grade 9. During her free time, she enjoys painting, reading, travelling, sewing and spending time with her daughters and grandchildren.

Sr. Fehmina is an ECE Assistant for Junior Kindergarten at the Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy. She has completed her Orton-Gillingham and ECE Assistant Certification and enjoys working with children and helping them reach their milestones. She has experience in a childcare setting for the past 8 years. Besides teaching, she likes travelling, cooking, reading and trying new desserts.

Sr. Shabnam has been with AZIA for almost 15 years. She has a passion for teaching Islamic Studies and also teaches our JKG class. She has a special training and certification in Orton Gillingham which is a great asset as she is able to meet the learning needs of all children. Her teaching style is comprehensive, integrated, fun and dynamic incorporating all modalities of the senses which allows for a strong and grounded learning experience for the children. Most of all, the children love her compassion and empathy. Her philosophy is to make Islam relevant to the essence and being of the child so that the child is able to realize his/her potential to the fullest and develop into a person that can make significant contributions to society.

Born in Iran, Sr. Ashraf received her degree in Early Childhood Education in Iran and graduated in 2008. After moving to Canada in 2009, she went back to school to learn English. Having worked as a cashier in Langley, she decided to get her Early Childhood Education Assistant certification to pursue her love of teaching young children. Working at AZIA has always been one of her biggest wishes and has both her children attending Az-Zahraa. She enjoys working with the staff, the children, and the peaceful environment that Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy has to offer. She is thankful to be back teaching at Az-Zahraa as she does not see herself working at any other place. Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy is like home for her.

Virtue is passionate about teaching. She strives to instill determination in the heart of every child and nourishes each child to grow gracefully. She believes in revolutionizing the way teachers teach by providing unwavering support and principal values. Virtue is committed to working closely with children, parents, and service professionals alike in developing and facilitating a dynamic curriculum while ensuring a warm and encouraging environment. 

 

She has classroom experience which spans from grades K-12 inclusively. At the primary level, she teaches all the core subjects such as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) as well as Humanities (English and Social Studies), and Physical Education. Her past experience includes managing the Learning Support Services department for several years. Virtue has taught and supported students with Autism, FASD, ASD, ADHD, dyslexia, and physical disabilities. She is passionate about early-intervention with a collaborative approach to help students excel and reach their full potential. 

Br. Rizwan was born and raised in Vancouver, BC, he also spent some of his childhood in Mwanza, Tanzania. He graduated from SFU where he also did his PDP teacher training program. He moved to Toronto, Ontario where he taught at As-Sadiq Islamic School. While in Toronto, he completed his Masters at the University of Toronto. He later joined the seminary in Qom. After his return from Qom, he was an instructor at PCTIC (pre-hawza program in Toronto). He recently moved back to Vancouver, BC and has been teaching at Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy. In his spare time, he enjoys the occasional hike with his family.

Mrs. Smolensky grew up on Vancouver Island and moved to Richmond after earning her B.Ed from the University of Victoria. She began teaching Kindergarten at AZIA and worked in several other grades before settling in Grade 7; she loves laughing with her students of all ages and getting them excited about reading. When not teaching (and drinking Tim Horton’s coffees), Mrs Smolensky loves spending time with her family, trying new restaurants, and delving into a new book. 

Sr. Mumtaz has been teaching/tutoring for almost 25 years now! She is very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in many educational settings to include elementary schools, secondary schools and colleges in both Canada and the UK. Her passion for math and instilling in her students the love for learning has been her drive. Her favourite Chinese proverb is: ‘’A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark.”

Br. Waleed is a Grade 7 and 8 teacher who utilizes inquiry based teaching methods in the classroom. He holds a Masters Art degree from the University of Ottawa, Bachelor degree from Dalhousie University and a Bachelor of Education from UBC. 

Br. Waleed has taught in a variety of class settings, including university, high school and elementary. He has a special focus on English language learning, creative writing and social studies. In his free time, Br. Waleed likes to write, make films and go for hikes.

Since 2000 Laura Benedetti has been a Special Education Teacher qualified in Ontario and Italy.  She is a versatile and dedicated child advocate with a solid focus on the individual needs of identified and Special Education students.  She is a kind-hearted and empathetic professional employing wide-ranging manipulatives and Individual Education Plans to enhance student achievement.  She is skilled in addressing students’ needs, ensuring children will thrive and develop in an adaptable educational atmosphere.  She possesses excellent interpersonal and communication skills to develop an excellent rapport with all members of the school community.

Sr. Zainab Bachoo was born and raised in Tanzania and moved to Canada in 1995.

In 2003, Sr. Zainab started teaching Qur’an at the Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy. She now serves as a Quran co-ordinator and has had the privilege of mentoring assistant teachers in their development of Qur’anic skills and teaching strategies. During this time, she has developed modules for training teachers in the science of tajweed along with easy to use manuals for parents and students.

 

Sr. Zainab has been the Quran Coordinator at Madrasah Az-Zahraa for over 10 years, and she also teaches Qur’an privately and at other schools. Her love for teaching the Qur’an drives her to log as many as 30 hours per week of Qur’an teaching time. She has studied Qur’anic Arabic formally and understands the Qur’anic language fluently. Her patience and pleasant mannerism in teaching the Quran has made her teaching successful for all students young and old.

 

Sr. Zainab is also passionate about increasing her knowledge of Islam and the Qur’an. She attended a week-long course on doctrines of faith organized by NASIMCO. Such opportunities allow her to bring the Qur’an to life in the classroom.

Sr. Masuma has completed her Diploma in Islamic Foundations and is currently pursuing her Diploma in Islamic Sciences. She strongly believes in a multisensory approach for learning and is a certified Orton Gillingham Practitioner. Sr. Masuma has been teaching Quran to the KG-Grade 6 students at AZIA since 2014 and holds an Independent School Teaching Certificate from the BC Ministry of Education. She has always been enthusiastic and passionate about learning and appreciating the teachings of The Holy Quran. Her priority is to instill the love for learning and reciting The Holy Quran in the students of AZIA and to impart valuable teachings from the Holy Quran through creative and multisensory activities. She also enjoys mentoring the students in teaching the art of reciting Nasheeds and Nawhas. Sr. Masuma has been actively involved in Madrasah Az-Zahraa, teaching and coordinating Quran for the past 10 years. She has also been volunteering in various activities at the Az-Zahraa Islamic Centre which include the popular workshops for children and has been an exhibitor for the annual Journey into Islam program; an evening where the general public is invited to learn about Islam and tour the Centre. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, yoga and playing badminton. 

Born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, Sr. Femida moved to Dubai, U.A.E. where she lived for 10 years, after which, she moved to New York, USA where she finished her formal education. Being a mother of four children, she has a passion for working with children. She has been working at Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy for almost 15 years and feels very lucky to work with such wonderful children.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, travelling, playing badminton, and just being active with her kids.

Sr. Sidika is an office assistant and a noon hour supervisor at Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy. She completed her Secretarial Studies diploma in Montreal before moving to Vancouver. When the Academy first opened its doors, Sr. Sidika was very much involved as an active member of the Parent Volunteer Group and assisted in many school initiatives.  She has also volunteered with students from various grades to assist in their academic skills.

 

Sr. Sidika enjoys working in a school environment and wishes to provide exceptional support to the students, parents, and teachers of Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy. She is looking forward to another fabulous year.

our school board

Oscar Pozzolo has spent his entire career serving in faith-based Independent schools: 17 years as a teacher, 12 years as a principal, and currently into his 5th year at Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy. Mr. Pozzolo has a Bachelor degree in Physical Education from U.B.C., a Post Baccalaureate Diploma in Education from S.F.U., and a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Oregon. Mr. Pozzolo is a strong believer in faith and religious education in schools. He believes that if students are to function as globally competent citizens, their faith will have a profound impact on their development of social skills and their ability to form good friendships and healthy relationships with others. He feels blessed to be part of the AZIA team and looks forward to many more years together. Mr. Pozzolo has three sons, one a graduate from U.B.C., and two currently attending SFU.

Shaykh Murtaza Bachoo was born in Dar es salaam Tanzania. At age thirteen he moved to Vancouver, Canada where he completed his high school studies and then acquired his bachelors in Electrical Engineering at the University of British Columbia in 2004. In spring of 2006 he embarked on a quest to learn the Islamic sciences in the hawza in Qum. After 4 years of studies, he returned back to his community in Vancouver. He was the resident scholar for the az-Zahraa Islamic Centre for last 10 years where his responsibilities included lecturing, counseling, teaching, responding to religious questions and providing strategic guidance to various committees.  He has also been active in various youth groups and student groups across the greater Vancouver area.

Azmat Ali is an award-winning CA with over a decade worth of experience in the field of accounting. He is an expert in assurance and tax with three accounting designations: CA, CGA and FCCA (UK). Azmat successfully completed all levels of CPA Canada’s In-Depth Tax Course.  He works very closely with business owners to ensure peace of mind. Azmat places a strong emphasis on ethics and morality and producing high quality results. Being the avid supporter of community work giving back to the community, he serves as Chair of Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy and holds a Director of Finance position in another charity.

Navshina Savory is a founding member of the Az-Zahraa School board.  back in 1998, she was part of the first group of individuals who had the vision for a community school for the Az-Zahraa community.  With the exception of a 2-year hiatus, Navshina has continuously served on the school board as an educator and as Director of Education of the SMCBC executive leadership team.  Navshina has a Bachelor of Science Degree and Bachelor of Education Degree from Simon Fraser University, and a Master of Arts Degree in Educational Leadership from San Diego State University.  Navshina has over 2 decades of extensive educational leadership experience in the public secondary school setting and currently is the Principal of R.C. Palmer Secondary School in Richmond, British Columbia.  Her passions are kids, education, family, school improvement, and her faith.  Navshina has 2 children, a son, and a daughter who are alumni of Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy