El Manssouri feels at home in Manawa
Middle school/high school has new principal
By Holly Neumann
Abe El Manssouri is settling into his new job as the Manawa School District’s middle school/high school principal.
“When I did my interview, I connected with people,” he said. “I liked how genuine the people were. They were willing to build relationships and willing to tell their story.”
He said he felt a sense of community.
“The way I was brought up, everyone knew everybody, it was almost like family,” he said. “I like that here as it reminds me of my origins and my roots.”
Born and raised in Morocco, he came to the United States in 2007 at the age of 21 through the Diversity Visa Program, bringing with him a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a one-year certificate in networking systems/computer sciences.
“The Diversity Visa Program is a program that the United States uses to bring in diversity here,” he said. “Coming to the United States was never part of my plan, but when it became a reality, I started thinking about what I was going to do there and where I was going to go.”
El Manssouri endured many challenges along the way.
“The language barrier was one of them,” he said. “Although I spoke Arabic, the Moroccan dialect and French, I did not really know English. It was more of a third language that I was taught for one year in school.”
Although he faced many disadvantages, El Manssouri started trying different jobs, new experiences and making a life for himself.
“I had to start from the very bottom,” he said. “I had to create knowledge, build relationships and I had to learn the language.”
He attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Milwaukee Area Technical College and once he decided he wanted to be in education, he attended Alverno College, where he earned his master’s degree in education and eventually his educational doctorate in educational leadership.
Before coming to Manawa, he taught science at the Milwaukee Collegiate Academy, Atlas Preparatory Academy, Salam School and, most recently, the New Berlin School District.
“The diversity of my experiences is an important factor in my leadership,” El Manssouri said. “It has helped me create a broad vision and a coherent understanding of leadership. I am equipped to use the various best practices I gathered from all aspects of my education journey here in Manawa.”
He said the biggest asset he brings to the district is the diversity of his thoughts and practices.
“I have seen priorities in each district and brought the best of all of those to Manawa,” he said. “I am open to try new things and to make positive changes and improvements.”
One change El Manssouri has made is students’ cell phone use.
“Cell phones is one small aspect of the positive change,” he said. “I am also looking for new strategies and new thoughts on how we can create even more student engagement. I believe that if we increase engagement over the months, students will show progress and results.”
He is also trying to make the whole school environment a more positive one, which normalizes respect, dignity and being kind to one another.
His vision is to take the district from one that meets expectations to one that exceeds expectations and then to a district that significantly exceeds expectations.
“I think it can be done,” he said. “We are a public school and there are a lot of obstacles, but there are also a lot of resources. The question is how to use those resources strategically.”
Preparing students for their future
El Manssouri said his purpose is to help students be better prepared for the future and become college ready, career ready and ready for life.
“I want to help students excel,” he said. “I want to look at their social and emotional aspects and I want them to be good citizens. I want to educate the whole child.”
El Manssouri has an open-door policy for parents, teachers and students. He can also be reached via email or telephone.
“I am always accessible,” he said.
When not at school, El Manssouri enjoys spending time with his wife Jamie and son Zedan. Together, they enjoy exploring the area. They like to watch movies, go to restaurants and travel whenever possible.