Dr. Tina Kerr (left) with the 2022 Michigan Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Dania Bazzi (right).

Dr. Dania Bazzi, Superintendent of Ferndale Public Schools, was announced as the Michigan 2022 Superintendent of the Year award winner by the Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators (MASA) on Monday during a surprise agenda item at the district’s board of education meeting.

The Michigan Superintendent of the Year Award, sponsored by Williams and Company, is presented to an MASA member who has shown tremendous effort and dedication to enriching the lives of students and the community as a whole. The winner is selected from a pool of nominated candidates by a panel representing education stakeholders across Michigan.

“I’ve worked with Dania for many years – when we were both superintendents in Southwest Michigan and now as part of MASA – and I know firsthand that she is a truly incredible leader,” said MASA Executive Director Dr. Tina Kerr. “Her hard work and commitment to the students, staff, and Ferndale community is evident, not only in her nomination for this award, but also in the success of the district. We are very proud that Dania is representing Michigan as this year’s Superintendent of the Year award winner.”

In 2017, Bazzi was named the Superintendent of Ferndale Public Schools, a district that encompasses just four square miles in southeast Michigan but educates more than 3,000 students each year across an early childcare center, two elementary schools, a middle school, two high schools, and one alternative/adult education program. Over the past five years, she has embraced and pushed the district’s mission to provide all students with an exceptional education that prepares them for college, careers, and success in a diverse society.

“Dr. Bazzi is an inspirational and transformational superintendent,” said Johanna Mracna, Ferndale’s Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction and the person who nominated Bazzi for the award. “Often we hear leaders speak of the importance of putting students first. However, it is rare to see one take a systematic approach to ensure we are doing everything we can for each and every student. That is what makes Dania special, her laser like focus on providing our students with the tools they need to be successful.”

Under Bazzi’s leadership, Ferndale Public Schools has been recognized with the 2019 Equity Innovator Award from Great Lakes Equity Center, earned a 2019 Innovative District Award from the International Center for Leadership in Education, and 2019-2020 Whole Child Award from Michigan ASCD. She also led the district to earn AdvancED Accreditation for the first time in its history in 2018.

“Dania is a strong leader, and she uses this talent to promote academic achievement of all students,” wrote Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, Superintendent of Oakland Schools and the 2013 Michigan Superintendent of the Year in her letter of support for Bazzi’s nomination. “She has the courage to put the district’s most difficult challenges at the top of her agenda. She demonstrates a high level of self-discipline and integrity that is a model for those who work with her. She is a tenacious, determined, straightforward individual who knows where she is headed.”

Bazzi earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Wayne State University. She holds a master’s in Teaching and bachelor’s degree in Mathematics both from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She also recently earned a Leading for Equity and Justice Certification from Eastern Michigan University.

Outside of her work in the district, Bazzi is an active volunteer. She has been a member of numerous national, state, and local organizations, including MASA, the Middle Cities Education Association, ASCD, Oakland County Superintendents, Ferndale Education Foundation, Ferndale Youth Assistance, Southeast Oakland Coalition, Partnership with Honor Community Health, and the FPS Community Diversity Committee.

Prior to her work in Ferndale, Bazzi was the Superintendent for three years in Galesburg-Augusta Community Schools. She also spent time as the Director of Teaching and Learning in Hamilton Community Schools and as a School Improvement and Data Consultant for Jackson County ISD.

As the 2022 MASA Superintendent of the Year honoree, Bazzi is now in the running for the national Superintendent of the Year award from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). AASA will convene a Blue-Ribbon Selection Committee to select four national finalists in December. The four finalists will participate in a national briefing and interviews in January. The National Superintendent of the Year winner will be announced in February at the AASA National Conference on Education in Nashville, Tenn., where all state winners are recognized as well. In addition, Bazzi will be formally recognized at MASA’s 2021 Midwinter Conference in January in Grand Rapids. A $1,000 student scholarship will also be donated by the award sponsor, Williams and Company, to the Ferndale Public Schools in her honor.