By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – The search for a new school superintendent has narrowed to six candidates: Nayal Maktari, Walled Lake Consolidated School District; Jacqueline Parker, Melvindale-North Allen Park Public Schools; Jason Salhaney, Van Buren Public Schools; Linda Lazar of Crestwood; Kevin Brock of Dearborn Heights District 7 and Ryan Vranesich of Mel-NAP.
The Mel-NAP School Board met in two special sessions: on March 1 to do in-depth interviews with Maktari, a principal with Walled Lake; Parker, Mel-NAP curriculum director, and Salhaney, a Van Buren principal; and on March 2 to do in-depth interviews with Lazar, an associate superintendent with the Dearborn Heights Crestwood School District, Brock, an assistant superintendent with D7, and attendee favorite and Melvindale High School Principal Vranesich.
The Mel-NAP board will meet March 14 to narrow its selection down to two, then will reinterview the two finalists March 21, and hold open houses with the two finalists to gather community input.
The process is being facilitated by Jay Bennett, an executive search services professional with the Michigan Association of School Boards.
Board members asked each candidate the same questions, looking for input regarding each candidate’s ease of working with a diverse population, changing their management style to better suit a situation, bringing people to consensus, and building both a team of staff members and other valuable relationships.
Lazar, who said she is fluent in Arabic, spoke of her experiences with inclusion and diversity issues, as well as staff engagement.
Brock spoke about the importance of working with marginalized students to help ensure their academic success, while also mentioning his work with seniors in the community to leverage their support.
Vranesich spoke of his passion to work in education, where he feels he can make the most impact.
He is also the only candidate with a personal knowledge of the district.
Vranesich spoke of the need for career and practical education in addition to college preparatory classes.
Each of the candidates also will be asked to create a letter to school parents based on a fictionalized set of circumstances, to demonstrate their written communication skills.