By Stephen Martin
DEARBORN — For Dr. Youssef Mosallam, one of the three executive directors of student achievement in the Dearborn Public Schools, education isn’t just about test scores.
“It’s about, did you shape the life of young men and women that are now shaping the lives of others?” he said.
Mosallam, 41, has been in his current position for two years, overseeing, assessing and analyzing students needs. He reports to Dr. Glenn Maleyko, the superintendent, and sits on his cabinet.
“Being born and raised in Dearborn, my kids go to the Dearborn Public Schools, even my wife teaches in Dearborn, this community is important to me. It’s not just about the Dearborn Public Schools,” he said. “But if we can establish and do things that are correct, we are establishing and helping 20,000 kids. That’s 20,000 kids in the city I grew up in, there’s no better feeling than that.”
The 1994 Fordson High School graduate, who 16 years later became its youngest principal, didn’t go on to college immediately afterwards. Instead, he worked for two years before enrolling at the then-Henry Ford Community College. Two years later, he transferred to Wayne State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, with certifications in English and history, in 2000.
He subsequently earned a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and a Ph.D. in educational, instructional and curriculum supervision at Wayne State University in 2015.
During his college career, he maintained high grades, completing his bachelor’s degree with a 3.75 GPA and his master’s with a 3.85 GPA.
Mosallam credits his success in college to maturity he gained from life experiences in those two years after high school.
“Those two years I didn’t go to college, my experiences— and what life threw at me— forced me to truly identify, learn and be able to understand what I need to do in order to be successful.”
Mosallam began his educational career in the district as a para-professional in 1998. He has also been principal at River Oaks Elementary School from 2008-10; principal at Fordson High School from 2010-15 and an executive director of student achievement since 2015.
In 2012, Mosallam was named in the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s School of Education Alumnus of the Year, and in 2015 he earned the Superintendent’s Teacher Award and the PTSA Outstanding Educator of the Year Award.
He said success in his work life is credited to teamwork, trust, honesty and the concept of servant leadership.
He said his team has difficult conversations in a trusting environment and that communication, “is key, its huge, it’s the most important thing. But your communication has to be succinct and to the point, and it must also be data driven.”
Mosallam said he didn’t just mean quantitative data like test scores, but also qualitative data, to understand perceptions about Dearborn Public Schools and understand the community’s views about the district.
Ironically, Mosallam did not always want to be an educator. He started at Henry Ford College as a business major, but a professor there, Dr. Michael Daher, illuminated his interest in literature. That, combined with rewarding experiences from volunteer football coaching with youngsters in the community, inspired him to change majors.
That inspiration continues to this day.
“If we don’t work as one in our community then our community will fall apart,” Mosallam said. “And I learned a long time ago if you want to make a difference in this world, you’ve got to start local, simple and small…where you can effect change immediately, because then that change will branch out. Over the 18 years I’ve been in education, I’ve seen so many of my former students who are now making a difference and that is the true definition of education.
“The longer you are in education the more you start reflecting and realizing you’re doing something that is a benefit to society,” he added.
Mosallam and his wife, Sana, have four children, Madalyn 16, Jamal 13, Elyssa 10 and Khalil 7.