2020 Vision with the PVS Board of Directors: Ahmed Mutlu
Ahmed Mutlu Celikok has been in the Memphis Muslim Community for the past 23 years. He was recently elected as the new Board president. He and his spouse Fatma have been parents at PVS continuously since 2003. Their oldest son Osman graduated from PVS High School in 2018 and is currently a junior at Rhodes College; Emir is currently a senior at PVS; and Meryem is in 2nd grade. Mr. Celikok previously served as an Adjunct Faculty in the Supply Chain & Marketing Department at the University of Memphis. He completed his Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering at Bogazici University in Turkey and his Master of Business Administration at the University of Georgia. He has been on the Board of Directors since 2014. He currently works as Vice President at FedEx Freight.
What does the Board of Directors do for the School?
The Board of Directors does not run the day to day activities of the school. The Board sets the long term strategic direction and goals of the school. For example, when the trailers were lost in August of 2014 the Board of Directors decided to initiate a large expansion project which is nearing completion now. The Board of Directors hires the principal of the school. The Board also advocates to secure resources and bring awareness for the school. Additionally, Board members volunteer their skills to help the school. For example, current vice president Brother Soyab volunteered his technological skills to enhance PVS’s technological infrastructure.
What role does the president play in the Board?
The Board President has to be a leader who serves the community and also is able to help facilitate the work of the administration by providing them with resources and guidance. The Board President assists in determining the long term direction of the Board by setting the agenda and making sure their decisions are executed. Furthermore, the President acts as a spokesperson to give the school’s message along with other board members. The President has a responsibility to leave the Board and Administration better or equal than they found it because it is a responsibility from Allah.
Why did you want to join the board?
I first joined the board in 1999, when I was 26, and was just looking for an opportunity to serve the Muslim Community. For me, joining the board of the school and helping out was one of the greatest investments of my time and most rewarding because of the opportunity of giving Sadaqah Jariyah, the opportunity of contributing to the future of our Muslim children, and the prospect of the school being a massive benefit to humanity. I had already done all the things society obligated me to do, going through college and graduating school and becoming an engineer, but coming to PVS to do something for others really gave me purpose and made me happy. Joining PVS taught me what secular education could not teach me. It taught me through measures of happiness to make others happy. Also, just knowing the sacrifices that the founders of the school made to make Pleasant View School succeed really touched me. For example, 8 families put their houses on collateral for the school to secure a loan. It was beautiful to see such a collective effort from all members of the community to sacrifice and make this school flourish. Looking at how the school started from such a small community to grow to such a massive extent is actually amazing. As you can look at how all the people our school can touch and will touch for the sake of Allah, it really motivated me. The world needs to hear and learn about all the Islamic ideologies like brotherhood, efficiency, and giving, and the best way to spread the message is through educating the Muslim youth in a school to teach the rest of the world.
How will you deal with conflict as President of the Board?
Approaching any problem as a president, there's always going to be a difference of opinion. Just as all the board members are parents with kids that attend PVS, we look for a solution that leans towards the betterment of the situation for the students. In every situation, there might be a difference in opinion, but we are all trying to achieve the same goal which provides a sense of unity and commitment to purpose. There’s amanah in that, that no matter what happens, the solution is for the better. Time is always spent going over and looking at data and possible solutions, which is then followed by an intense board meeting in which each board member has a say in the matter. In that matter, no one in the board has status above the other; the president is considered a “moderator” for the meetings.
What are the plans for reopening in the near future and for long-term growth?
Thanks to the Board members long term decision to upgrade the technological aspect of learning in PVS, once Covid-19 became an issue, relocating virtually wasn't much of a problem. In the future, one of the main goals is to make sure the virtual education system in PVS remains strong and advances in the future.
A twin goal that has been in mind is to make sure that once it is safe to go back to school, we will have the necessary space that we need for the safety of the kids. With that in mind, the opening of the new building will help tremendously in that aspect.