CMU Celebrates 25 Years of Reaching Students Through Charter Public Schools

In 1994, Central Michigan became the first university in the nation to authorize a charter public school. For the past 25 years, CMU has been a leader in the quest to ensure every child in Michigan has access to an innovative, high-quality public school education. Central has connected students with specialized learning opportunities with passionate public school teachers using approaches and environments as unique as the children they’re educating.

As the university commemorates this quarter-century milestone, we invite you to read below for more about how CMU alumni are involved in these dynamic schools.


25 Years of Excellence

Dr. Hosep Torossian
High School Principal – A.G.B.U. Alex and Marie Manoogian School, Southfield

It is rare to find an engineer serving as a high school principal, but at A.G.B.U. Alex and Marie Manoogian Charter School in Southfield, Dr. Hosep Torossian has followed a unique path where his diverse knowledge base has provided impactful experiences for the students at his school.

Torossian began his professional career as a chemical engineer after graduating from the University of Toronto in 1978, an occupation he enjoyed for 21 years which allowed him to travel the world extensively. But it was an opportunity to join A.G.B.U. Alex and Marie Manoogian School as a temporary high school mathematics teacher that kicked off his 20-year journey in education, and he hasn’t looked back. Torossian found his new passion in educating the students of his community and he quickly became the high school’s assistant principal and now serves as the principal.

Dr. Hosep Torossian pictured with National Honor Society students

Throughout his 20 years in education, Torossian saw a need for additional STEM education and has brought numerous opportunities to his school. A.G.B.U is now known for their STEM programming, including an automotive engineering class and robotics program. They also feature the program Project Lead the Way that brings computer science, engineering design and medical curriculum to the students through hands-on challenging projects.

“I am very proud to be part of the CMU family as we celebrate the Golden 50th anniversary of the Manoogian school, and its 25th year as a charter school authorized by CMU. I credit the success of the Manoogian school to our amazing faculty and staff,” Torossian shared.

Torossian holds a doctorate degree in education from Central Michigan University. He has also been an adjunct professor at CMU since 2005, teaching courses focusing on strategic planning, curriculum, educational leadership, education finance and emotional intelligence. In 2017, Torossian was named a top five finalist for the Michigan Charter School Administrator of the Year by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.

Emily Doerr
Academy Board Member – Woodland Park Academy, Grand Blanc

Service to her community is intertwined throughout Emily Doerr’s personal and professional life. Not only does she have a background in community economic development, but she also serves her community as a board member at Central Michigan University partner charter public school Woodland Park Academy.

Doerr graduated from CMU in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree and a wealth of leadership experience. While on campus, Doerr was a Centralis Scholar. She also started the Fencing Club and a co-ed acapella group called Central Harmony. Doerr also held numerous roles within the Alternative Breaks program serving as a participant, site leader and fundraising chairperson.

“My education at CMU definitely put me on the path of a career focused on community and economic development, primarily because of Economics classes I took with Dr. Jason Taylor and Honors College coursework I took with then-Honors-College Chair, Dr. James Hill. They both emphasized looking at societal issues with an analytical mind, developing an action plan for incremental change through building consensus, and using data to substantiate all policy and programmatic efforts,” Doerr said.

Emily Doerr volunteering in her community

It was through an internship with the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan that Doerr found her passion for working with community economic development groups. Her internship was the start of her path in this work and she has held various roles in community economic development throughout her career. These roles include state-level advocacy, grants management for a community action agency, small business development for a regional chamber of commerce, working for two cities’ community economic development departments, statewide business attraction, and most recently, affordable housing development through her work at Metro Community Development.

In speaking of her work in community economic development, Doerr shares that “this work is constantly evolving and it ultimately assists low-to-moderate income individuals and families to help break the cycle of poverty, helping communities build economic stability.”

Doerr wanted to join the board of Woodland Park Academy to serve the Flint area while learning about how public education funding and compliance processes occur in Michigan. When reflecting on her time as a board member, Doerr states that she is “proud of the continued focus the Board maintains with our administration on building teacher capacity to increase student success.”

Dr. Firas Shalabi
Graduate of CMU College of Medicine and CMU Partner Charter Public School Central Academy

Firas Shalabi is now known by another name. That is because in May, Firas graduated from the CMU College of Medicine and will officially begin his career as Dr. Firas Shalabi. This tremendous accomplishment is a testament to his hard work at CMU, but Shalabi would be the first to say he owes equally as much of his success to the quality education he received before he left for college.

Shalabi graduated from Central Academy, a small multicultural charter public school in Ann Arbor authorized by CMU. It was there he made the decision to pursue a career in medicine following his exposure to courses in biological sciences. But in addition to the curriculum, Shalabi feels his time at Central Academy prepared him to succeed in medical school at CMU.

“I attended Central Academy for 10 years, which allowed me to develop and appreciate long-lasting relationships with my teachers and classmates. I also appreciated having a smaller class size, something I was able to value again when I was part of a class of 104 at CMED,” Shalabi said.

Firas Shalabi consulting with a patient at the Flint Health Fair

Central Academy’s impact on his life thus far has not been lost on Shalabi. He continues to seek out ways in which he can give back to the school and community that has given him so much by acting as a mentor to the school’s students and sharing his story with the whole student body at Central Academy’s Alumni Career Day.

Shalabi also brought with him to CMU that same desire to give back and stay involved on campus. As a medical student, Shalabi was active in several medical-related student interest groups, served on the Medical Student Council as treasurer and secretary, was involved in organizing the annual “Diversity Health Spotlight Symposium,” and was part of a group of medical students that organized and hosted the “Medical Student/Physician Suicide Awareness Program.”

Shalabi will be starting his residency training in Obstetrics & Gynecology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, but he has some valuable wisdom he’d like to leave behind. “Success is not hindered by a lack of resources, but rather, determined by how you make use of the resource that ARE available to you.”