As much as he yearns for friends and relatives in his homeland of war-ravaged Iraq, Husam (Sam) AlMimar has found a second home as a computer and technology teacher at Woodford County Middle School.
“I could not have found a better substitute home than what I have now,” he said. “People here have been wonderful.”
Not that it was an easy transition from Najaf, Iraq to pastoral Versailles.
From a family of educators in Iraq, Sam earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer and software engineering from the University of Technology in Iraq where all his studies were in English.
Still, in 2008, when he and his wife arrived in Lexington (her parents had immigrated to Lexington two years earlier), Sam could find only menial jobs.
So he enrolled at UK and earned another master’s degree, in education, and landed the technology job at Woodford County in 2013.
He teaches Computer 3D Design and Modeling, and Automation and Robotics classes. Students love his hands-on classes, designing projects on computers that are printed on a 3D printer and building robotic cars, powered by computer software programmed by students.
Discipline is a No. 1 priority in the classroom, Sam said, but fun runs a close second. As if to prove the point, two students popped into his classroom.
“What is Mr. AlMimar like as a teacher?” they were asked. Big smiles creased their faces.
“He’s serious about class but he jokes around with me a lot, and we have a great time in class,” eighth grader Johnny Vieyra said.
Cayden Walton, a seventh grader, has no classes with Sam but is one of many students who play soccer with him at the end of the school day.
“He’s a lot of fun,” Cayden said.
Sam also takes on all comers in ping pong. He was a collegiate champion in Iraq and remains undefeated at Woodford Middle against students.
“They always say they will beat me next time, and we laugh together so it’s a lot of fun,” Sam said.
“It was very important for me to fit in at the school and show the students that I understand them and that I want to be here. I learned to be flexible and to have a student-centered classroom.
“This is the best way for me to make them successful students.”