DEARBORN HEIGHTS — On Wednesday night, the Crestwood Public Schools Board of Trustees held a special board meeting to appoint Dr. Youssef Mosallam the district’s first Arab American superintendent.
Mosallam is an educator who served in leadership positions in the Dearborn Public Schools in different capacities for more than two decades. He previously served as the principal of Fordson High School in Dearborn.
“I am excited to take on this new direction working as a superintendent for the Crestwood community,” he told The Arab American News.
He was previously coordinator of English Language Learners and Compensatory Education at the Dearborn Schools.
He also served as principal at Riverside Elementary School and Fordson High School and was the executive director of student achievement as well as community partnerships and career readiness. Mosallam has also taught high school language arts and history, English as a second language instruction and advanced placement instruction.
“I plan on working closely with the superintendents of the other school districts,” Mosallam said. “The aim is to all work together so we can have a comprehensive focus for the entire city of Dearborn Heights.”
Mosallam went through an application process for the Crestwood superintendent position and was selected as one of four candidates to interview for the position. He then went through a two-round process with one other finalist. The district is yet to establish a start date for Mosallam, though it is currently in conversation to determine his transition from the Dearborn Public Schools to Crestwood.
The Crestwood Public School District has more than 3,500 students. It consists of one high school, one middle school, three elementary schools and a preschool program. It is one of three schools districts in Dearborn Heights.
“I plan on working closely with the superintendents of the other school districts,” Mosallam said. “The aim is to all work together so we can have a comprehensive focus for the entire city of Dearborn Heights.
“I’ll be reaching out to them to sit down and discuss how we can support one another,” he added.
Describing is vision for his new district, Mosallam said he’s determined to bring a high quality education to the community with a strong focus on college readiness. This plan includes working closely nearby college partners, Henry Ford College, the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Wayne State University.
The district and families in the greater Dearborn Heights area can look forward to efforts towards a comprehensive universal preschool program prior to the kindergarten program. The goal is to foster learning and skills in order for students to join a globalized education society.
Mosallam said he plans to extend and build on the work of previous superintendent Dr. Laurine VanValkenburg.
“I hope to establish continuing effective programing with the administrators, schools, community as one solid team, moving our district together with the board of education,” he said. “We all have to come together to build on our strengths and look to the future.”
Crestwood Public Schools recently brought in the Michigan Leadership Institute (MLI), a well known and reputable organization, to help with its superintendent search. MLI aids with these searches across multiple schools districts and follows up with mentoring and providing professional learning opportunities.
Recently, the district came under scrutiny when members of the Dearborn Heights public raised questions about its hiring practices, doubting whether it would be able to be impartial in its search for a new superintendent.
“Bringing in MLI was a combination of things,” Mosallam said. “It was a reflection of the board and district understanding that working in tandem with such an organization would not only open up the pool of candidates but also have support for them after the process.
“Through my conversations with the Crestwood Board of Education, who are dedicated to taking the district to the next level, (I know) that they want to make the experience positive for students and teachers by hiring the most qualified people that can do the best work for our students.”
Board members Nadia Berry and Salwa Fawaz share Mosallam’s enthusiasm about the district’s future and its first Arab American superintendent.
“I’m excited because of the capabilities and experience Mosallam brings to this position,” Berry said over the phone late Thursday. “I am very confident that he’ll take Crestwood to the next level of student achievement. We need the strong leadership that he’ll provide for the district and move it to where it needs to be.”
Berry said the board wanted to make sure the community was on board and bring in a superintendent who knew the community, emerged from it and could relate to it.
Crestwood is currently wrapping up its own district bond, with construction projects in need of timely completion. Berry is confident that Mossallam’s experience will play a big role in helping these projects move along towards this goal.
Fawaz echoed this confidence in Mosallam.
“We’re really excited to have Youssef join the Crestwood team,” she said. “Just given his background and experience in the school system and education he’ll be a really strong asset for the school and our community.”
Dr. Mosallam, 43, is married to Sana Bazzi Mosallam and they have four children, Madalyn,18, Jamal, 15, Elyssa, 12 and Khalil, 9. The family resides in Dearborn.