Ahmad Almutawa’s passion is helping kids expand their minds.

“I love impacting their lives and making a positive change in my students’ lives,” Almutawa says.

Almutawa is a teacher at Orange Crescent School in Garden Grove, a private institution serving preschool through eighth-grade students and one of the largest Islamic schools in Orange County. In his eighth year at the school, Almutawa teaches Islamic studies and serves as discipline coordinator.

“It helps me connect with the kids,” Almutawa says of his disciplinarian duties. “When kids are in detention or misbehaving in class, I ask them ‘Muhammad, what’s going on today? Something happen at home? Tell me more about it.’ I want to understand the student from their perspective to give the teacher a better environment to teach and the student a better environment to learn.”

Almutawa also coordinates the school’s Camp 99 program, a retreat he started in 2010 to help Muslim youths find their identities. When it began, 15 students signed up for a trip to Big Bear. Now, almost 120 students take part.

“It’s a retreat for kids to see something different that they’ve never seen in their lives,” Almutawa says.

Professional: In addition to teaching, Almutawa officiates high school soccer games.

Last book read: “Islam and the World: The Rise and Decline of the Muslims and Its Effect on Mankind” by Sayyed Abul Hasan Nadwi

Quotable: “My faith tells me there is a greater cause for what I do. I’m not doing this for myself, I’m not doing this for this generation or my kids, I’m doing this for the long, long, long term.”

Personal: Almutawa, 37, a native of Kuwait, his wife, Aisha, and their two kids, Aceile, 7, and Asma, 5, live in Costa Mesa.