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After receiving not one, not two but THREE nominations for #MICharterHero, it is easy to see how Layal Boussi, School Leader at Universal Learning Academy (ULA) in Westland, truly embodies a hero. One nominator said Layal is a leader who is truly invested in her staff and students.
Mrs. Boussi has the qualities of an exceptional leader. She has the skill set to motivate not only her staff, but also the students. Under Mrs. Boussi’s leadership, she has created an environment that encourages and empowers the staff and students. She is truly invested in ensuring the students are in a safe, friendly environment and are challenged/growing academically. She has numerous plans to help assist the students to help them be successful.”
For Layal, education wasn’t always the path for her, starting as a pre-med student in college and graduating with a degree in Biology but she said it ended up being a natural fit.
After school, I got into teaching and fell in love with it. It was like discovering something new and I fell in love with the fact that every single day I went home feeling like someone was waiting for me the next day to make that difference.”
After teaching at another school for nine years, Layal came to ULA. She said the transition was made that much easier by the community already built there.
When I was first transferred to ULA seven years ago, it was a big shock. I had served at the sister school for nine years, which was a bigger campus. The first thing that really stood out to me was the trust and the positive community that the staff members had already established here. I came into an environment that was already empowering. The people who work here really believed in the mission and the vision of the academy.”
As both a parent and an educator, Layal said she knows how important having a choice in education is.
I love working for Hamadeh Educational Services (HES) because it really is a community that gives and invests in you as a staff member and as a parent. HES really invests in the students and gives them opportunities to strive and do better. Choosing a place outside of your geographic boundaries and being able to have a choice in the school you want to send your kids to is very empowering and that’s why I believe in the charter school mission overall and why I continue to serve in this capacity.”
While being both a parent and an educator may come with it’s own challenges, Layal said she understands how important education is for students.
It’s rewarding and challenging. Anything I find challenging, I see it as an opportunity to really give back. As a mother, I value and truly cherish the work of educators because when you become a parent you know what it takes for a teacher to serve the best interest of your child. You start making it more personal to you as an educator because there are parents who are really putting their trust in you.”
One parent nominated Layal for #MICharterHero, the nominator said Layal’s ability to help students is what really sets her apart.
As a parent of a child who struggled in reading, I was heard immediately with my concerns. After speaking with the teacher about my concerns regarding my son, a plan was initiated immediately. I met with Mrs. Boussi and she discussed our options. She did an amazing job to help keep me calm and confident that together we help my son succeed.”
Helping students who may have unique needs isn’t something new for Layal. She said it is what makes ULA so special and what makes educators great.
The beauty of it is we’re able to serve students of various backgrounds, of diverse backgrounds, students who bring so much talent whether the talent is academic or athletic or artistic, we’re able to serve all of them. We do serve students of unique needs, I don’t like to call them high needs. I like to call them unique needs because the more unique they are and how they learn and how they receive information and how they interact with you, the more you’re becoming equipped as a human being and as an educator. That’s the unique and very special beauty of this school.”
Some of these unique needs even include taking in refugee students. Layal said it is one of the most rewarding experiences and really speaks to the level of commitment the staff at ULA have.
I’m beyond proud of the fact that I had multiple students who came to us just learning the alphabet because their primary language was Arabic and have now gone on to graduate with full ride scholarships. That tells you, if there’s a will, there’s a way. The will is definitely there because we have amazing staff members who are really willing to break through for these kids and we have students who know and understand and recognize and appreciate the resources their school community is offering.”
One nominator for Layal said her ability to handle these unique needs and create a true sense of community at ULA is what makes her an amazing leader.
Mrs. Boussi is an extraordinary leader who often evades any type of acknowledgement, though she truly gives the most. She skillfully juggles the needs of our students, from the youngest preschooler to the young adults of our senior class. Ms. Boussi created a culture of motivation, love, belonging, ethics, high standards, and joy at ULA. She created a family for students, parents, and staff.”
Another nominator said Layal has the ability to be everything a student, staff member or family needs.
Mrs. Boussi has an unending ability to give to our school community. She will research, provide, promote, and oversee any tool, instructional technique/method, or service to further our students' academic, career, and emotional wellbeing and success. She is an educator, crisis manager, cheerleader, legal expert, disciplinarian, a coach, a mediator, an executive manager, among many other roles. Every day, Ms. Boussi wears all these hats with excellence, patience, sound judgment, and compassion.”
For Layal, she said serving the community at ULA is one of the greatest rewards.
When you become a service to others, it is a great reward. It takes special people to survive education, especially during current times. It’s the fact that I’m able to be a service to others. When I say a service to others, I’m not just referring to my staff, I’m referring to the students, to the families that come to you for maybe parenting advice. That’s why I’m up and about, in the hallways, it’s because I get to be a true service to others. I get to come to work and make it a better day for students. I get to lend a helping hand to a staff member that may be having a difficult time with a student or class or lesson. This school gives me the chance to smile every day.”
Universal Learning Academy is a Pre-K through 12th grade public charter school located in Westland. Although for Layal and many of her students she said it is home.
The focus here at ULA is a culture of continuous growth. We can’t all be straight-A students because biologically speaking that’s not how we’re all born. We can’t all be a certain shape or form, it isn’t one template. We try to embed a lot of programs that tend to the unique talents and to the unique needs and the unique backgrounds that our students come from. That’s why ULA is the special community that it is. I always have to remind students at the end of the day, ‘go home, go home’, and the answer I get is ‘well we’re home’, that’s the kind of place ULA is.”
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