LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Bita Nasri

Position: Founder
School: Nasri Academy for Gifted Children
School District: Nasri Academy for Gifted Children
City, State: Las Vegas, NV

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Bita Nasri was nominated by her colleague, Robert Stauffer.

Ms. Nasri is the founder of Nasri Academy for Gifted Children. In this role, she has exhibited the personal qualities that made it possible for her to touch countless lives.

Her story begins in high school. Ms. Nasri was the classic square peg in a round hole. She did not assimilate into high school at all and became a high school dropout. Her prospects could have been dismal as a high school dropout in a town like Las Vegas. However, she quickly finished her diploma by correspondence and ultimately obtained an impressive MBA degree. She was a highly gifted child who was able to overcome the obstacles in her way and become successful. Many, many gifted children are not so lucky.

Ms. Nasri came to believe it was time to reform one of the most scandalous highways to prison for young minority Americans. That highway is our education system for gifted and talented minorities. The gifted and talented make up 3% to 5% of the general population but as much as 20% of the inmate population.

Gifted and talented students often find themselves in a boring curriculum that provides no stimulation. Additionally, their home lives rarely offer the intellectual stimulation they lack at school. They are often misunderstood by teachers and abandoned by peers. They need the nurturing environment Ms. Nasri provides at Nasri Academy to thrive.

Other students accept the boredom. By fifth grade, only 56% of identified gifted minority students are successful in school. Federal funding for the gifted is almost non-existent, and students are rarely even noticed by the government. After all, they're smart, so they will get by somehow.

It's said that where governments fail, non-profits appear. That is why Ms. Nasri founded the Nasri Academy for Gifted Children. It's the only school for the gifted and talented in southern Nevada. Nasri Academy accepts students in the top 2% of the population. All Nasri students are eligible for membership in Mensa, the high IQ society, and they are required to join Mensa. Nasri students experience a difficult curriculum and have stimulating dialogues with Ph.D. instructors and their gifted peers. The school is starting a relationship with CLEP (College Level Examination Placement), so 7th and 8th graders can pursue college credit. At Nasri, the cool kids are the ones who win science fairs. With the understanding of the faculty and the support of gifted peers, Ms. Nasri has created a place where the social and emotional aspect of gifted education is addressed.

Her own experience as a gifted child gave her an extraordinary gift of empathy. She cares about every student at Nasri Academy with the same devotion she shows her own children. Her school provides an exceptionally high level of education to all the "square pegs." There is no way to know how many students' lives have changed from being on the pipeline to prison to becoming tomorrow's doctors, engineers, and teachers. Ms. Nasri's altruism and empathy have led her to give generous scholarships. She takes no salary to help the school survive on its highly limited budget. Her response always seems to be," well, maybe next year." She is clearly motivated by the children.

Ms. Nasri makes a significant impression on the faculty and students' lives. She understands and embraces the work of psychologist Alfred Adler. He believed that all behavior is motivated by our desire for self-esteem. The students are encouraged to believe they are in a safe place where they can celebrate their intellectual gifts, not hide them. The excellent faculty receives constant positive reinforcement and is inspired by Bita's leadership by example.

"Ms. Nasri's impact on our precious gifted children can never be measured. She is truly a LifeChanger," said Stauffer.