URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Hidaya Academy is an Islamic school in Urbana focused on creating a positive environment for its students to embrace a strong Muslim identity. It’s a first of its kind in the community.

For Fatima Rahman, a kindergarten and first-grade teacher, this is her first year in the classroom after transitioning out of a career in social work.

Being in a school like this one means a lot to her. Rahman said she feels she can be herself — and that’s a blessing.

“Islam…it’s an everyday thing,” she said. “We pray 5 times a day, there’s prayers to say before you eat and after you eat.”

She feels there are a lot of benefits to this way of learning.

“It’s amazing to be able to just implement them and talk about them. You can talk about character and it’s amazing. It’s like a breath of fresh air. You’re just able to just be yourself,” Rahman said.

The classrooms at Hidaya focus on the basics like math, science and reading, but they also teach Islamic studies and Arabic.

Rahman wants her students to walk away learning about being empathetic, kind humans.