Leila Abdi Kanani
Leila Kanani is the Executive Director and a board member of Kooshesh Persian School. She was born in Iran and moved to the US at the age of 8. She grew up in Atlanta and then Washington, DC, and moved to Orange County in 2018. Growing up she was always involved with bringing together the Persian community whether it was in college, law school, or after she had children. After her oldest child started Persian writing classes, she was inspired to create a Persian School. As a member of the Iranian diaspora, Leila wanted to build a community for the children of Persian heritage and to create a space for Persian children to gain a richer understanding of the Persian culture and language. She approached her friends Salome and Hedieh and together they formed Kooshesh.
Leila holds a BS in Computer Science from Georgia Tech and a JD from American University in Washington DC. She is a patent attorney and is the managing partner of her firm, Stratus Law Group. Leila, her husband, and their four children reside in Orange County, CA.
Salomè is the School Director and a board member of Kooshesh Persian School. While taking a break from the corporate world to educate her children at home for nine years, Salomè devoted countless hours to learning about effective communication with children, human behavior, and learning styles through courses and personal research. While her initial goal was to make informed decisions about parenting and provide the best possible educational experience for her children, she discovered her passion for teaching in the process. She has been teaching Farsi lessons to her children at home, yet, she felt that something was missing, and she longed for a more holistic experience, so when Leila presented the idea of the Kooshesh Persian School to her, she eagerly joined the team without hesitation. Salomè is passionate about instilling a love for the Persian language and culture in the younger generations born outside Iran, and she takes pride in being a part of their journey toward learning and growth. She holds a M.Sc in engineering from Tehran Polytechnic University and is currently a UX/UI designer.
Hedieh Parsa Basir
Hedieh Parsa Basir is the Finance Director and a board member of Kooshesh Persian School, contributing to its financial and accounting department. Her path to this role showcases her adaptability and determination. Hedieh was born and raised in Iran, and her academic journey led her to earn a Master's degree in Agricultural Engineering from Tehran University. Not long after her arrival to the United States in 2007, she began teaching Farsi to Non-Persian graduate students, an experience that highlighted her interest in both education and the preservation of Persian culture. In parallel with her teaching efforts, Hedieh began studying accounting and taxation, an endeavor that eventually led her to her current role as an accountant for an agricultural-based company. Though professionally engaged, Hedieh has always prioritized maintaining a strong connection to her cultural heritage and the importance of sharing this legacy with younger generations. Her friends, Leila and Salome, share these values, and together they started the Kooshesh Persian School, a dedicated space for teaching Persian language and culture. As a mother of two, Hedieh's investment in this project is not just professional, but personal. She hopes that her children, as well as all students at the Kooshesh Persian School, can not only learn the Persian language and culture but also derive a sense of self-assurance and joy from this connection.
Asal Alimirzai is the Assistant Director of Kooshesh Persian School. She is a Jill of all trades when it comes to teaching languages and literature. She is currently teaching at CSUF and CPP. Her career started at Villa Park High School, where she wrote and taught the very first California state approved curriculum for Farsi classes. Asal believes that each child is a unique individual who needs a secure, caring and stimulating atmosphere in which to grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially. Regardless of the topic she teaches, it is her desire as an educator to help students meet their fullest potential in these areas by providing an environment that is safe, supports risk-taking, and invites a sharing of ideas. By working at the Kooshesh Persian school, she hopes to instill a sense of belonging for our young Persian learners that remains with them beyond the classroom walls.
Melody's journey in Persian dance started as a child in Iran taking lessons, Upon her return to the U.S., she honed her skills at the Ila Dance Academy from the age of 13. Melody showcased her talent at numerous cultural and Nowruz (New Year) events in San Diego. Her dedication and ability led her to a position as a dance instructor at both the Ila Dance Academy and the Iranian School of San Diego. Here, she taught the beauty of Persian dance to students ranging from 5 to 12 years old, as well as to adults through private sessions and programs at the Iranian School. Over the years, Melody has performed at Persian weddings to grand Nowruz celebrations at the University of Southern California (USC). Parallel to her dancing endeavors, Melody is a fourth-year undergraduate student at UCLA, majoring in Psychobiology. Demonstrating her leadership skills, she proudly serves as the co-president of UCLA's Persian Club, the largest collegiate Persian club in the country, for the second consecutive year. Melody contributes as a choreographer for UCLA, preparing students for the annual cultural show and organizing events for the university's Persian community.
Masih Salafzoon was born in Iran, Shiraz, and grew up in a family that admired and loved music. He started learning music at the age of 13 with Tonbak. His Master, Navid Afghah and Mohammad Reza Kavari taught him the beginners and mid-level teachings of Tonbak. He continued with Master Bahman Rajabi who taught him the more high level techniques. At the age of 16 he started learning Daf, and in one year he was able to have his own students and teach them Daf and Tonbak. He had many concerts with groups such as Chakameh, Chaghaneh, and Audio and Video group in Tehran, and Fars Province. Masih also holds a BS in Industrial Management and continued to complete his MBA in Iran. He followed his dreams and his path to the US in 2011 and got his Masters degree in Healthcare administration from National University of the United states. He has been teaching since 2000 and has had many students of Tonbak and Daf. His goal is to teach music and help students learn and enjoy playing Persian percussion instruments of Daf and Tonbak. He currently has more than 30 students all across the state of California, in San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles, and many online students from across the world, such as Europe, and the Middle East. His students range in age from 5-75 years old.