Crestwood School District – Dearborn Heights, Michigan

March 4, 2024

Crestwood School District

Ready for the Next Level


Focusing on fostering holistic development, academic and extracurricular excellence.

Leading the academic route ahead, the Crestwood School District in Dearborn Heights, Michigan has a great deal to be proud of. Emphasizing a nurturing and inclusive atmosphere where everyone is respected, encouraged, and motivated to reach their greatest potential, and under the keen leadership of Superintendent Dr. Youssef Mosallam, the district is committed to improving lives and building stronger communities through the power of education.

Superintendent Dr. Youssef Mosallam

Building on this foundation of nurturing and inclusivity, Dr. Mosallam, with a tone reflecting determination and visionary leadership, recounts the transformative journey of Crestwood School District since his tenure began. “In 2019, when I stepped in, we were soon confronted with the Covid-19 crisis,” he shares. This period, as challenging as it was, catalyzed a period of introspection and accelerated change. Dr. Mosallam underscores the urgency of those times: “There was no delay. We had to jump in head first and make some adjustments.”

Central to these adjustments was a strategic rebranding of the district. This wasn’t merely a cosmetic change but a deep-rooted shift in focus. Dr. Mosallam elucidates, “Our vision evolved to celebrate culture and diversity and consider the individual needs of each student, academically and socio-economically.” This vision crystallized into a mission statement – ‘Your future, our focus’ – encapsulating the district’s commitment to every student’s journey.

The superintendent then touches on an issue close to his heart – social-emotional learning. “If our children have social-emotional struggles, academics will not matter to them,” he asserts, highlighting the importance of addressing these needs as foundational to academic success. The disruptions caused by Covid-19 brought these needs into sharper focus. Dr. Mosallam describes the challenges students face returning to school after prolonged absences. “We had to put the brakes on academics for a full month just to reestablish what it’s like to go to school,” he says, underscoring the necessity of this approach despite the risks involved, particularly regarding standardized assessment scores.

A Holistic Approach to Education

The Crestwood School District, under Dr. Mosallam’s stewardship, has seen a remarkable transformation, not just in its approach to education but also in its physical and technological infrastructure. Dr. Mosallam elaborates on the comprehensive changes, “We have tripled our social work support, doubled our school psychologist and non-instructional staff.” This expansion reflects a commitment to a holistic educational environment, integrating the whole child’s needs, including their social and emotional well-being.

The impact of these changes is tangible. Dr. Mosallam points out a significant reduction in disciplinary issues. “Office discipline referrals across the district are down over 50%,” he notes, attributing this to the effective implementation of restorative practices. These practices, he explains, foster a sense of community and connection among students, an essential aspect of their holistic development.

The district’s core focus, as Dr. Mosallam emphasizes, extends to literacy, numeracy, and social-emotional learning, engaging community and parental involvement. This inclusive approach is mirrored in the district’s improvement plan, which is data-driven and tailored to meet individual school needs. “We use research-driven, statistically driven intervention strategies,” Dr. Mosallam asserts, highlighting a departure from assumptions and a move towards evidence-based practices.

Growth and Progress in Crestwood

The fruits of these labors are evident in the district’s remarkable growth. “We have grown close to, if not more than 20% in our growth index rating by the state of Michigan,” Dr. Mosallam proudly states. This growth is not confined to a single institution within the district. Still, it spans all schools, with elementary schools reaching impressive percentages in the 90s and significant jumps in middle and high schools.

Penny Morgan, CFO

This success story extends beyond educational metrics to financial health. “Since 2019, we have increased our fund balance from 17% to 26%,” Dr. Mosallam reveals. This financial acumen enabled the district to undertake substantial infrastructure projects without additional taxpayer burden. “We completed a $9 million outdoor facility complex upgrade and a $6 million project to add 12 classrooms to our elementary schools,” he shares, highlighting the initiatives to enhance the learning environment and reduce class sizes, crucial for early education.

Dr. Mosallam reflects on the journey since 2019, emphasizing the collective effort involving his executive cabinet, teachers, administrators, and the community. “We identified our opportunities, not what is holding us back,” he says, capturing the essence of the district’s forward-thinking approach. This perspective, coupled with a comprehensive strategy, has propelled Crestwood School District forward, achieving in four years what might have otherwise taken eight. The district’s ability to adapt, innovate, and grow despite unprecedented challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic vividly illustrates effective leadership and community collaboration.

“The district has been able to evaluate staffing district-wide, assessing the needs of the district and realigning staff resources where necessary without creating layoffs or increasing staff sizes. In addition, the district has been able to utilize financial resources provided to address additional educational needs for students post COVID with one-time expenditures that will not leave a legacy cost for the district,” Penny Morgan, CFO for the district, states.

“The district has been able to focus on the educational needs of students post-COVID by utilizing data to determine students’ current areas of need and then building a plan of intervention and support to address skill gaps and improve their overall achievement. Reduced class sizes in lower elementary and increased support staff to assist students through small group instruction have shown instrumental in closing the gaps created by interrupted learning,” Andria O’Hara, Associate Superintendent, elaborates.


Prioritizing Security in Education

In an era where school security is paramount, Crestwood School District has taken significant strides under Dr. Mosallam’s leadership. Integrating emotional well-being and physical safety is a critical component of their strategy. “Social, emotional learning and security go hand in hand,” he explains. Acknowledging the inseparability of a student’s sense of safety and learning ability, the district has undertaken substantial security enhancements.

Andria O’Hara, Associate Superintendent

The upgrades are extensive and meticulously planned. “We’ve upgraded all of our automatic lock systems and developed a quicker mechanism for locking down doors in serious events,” Dr. Mosallam details. Additionally, the district employs a third-party security company staffed by current and former police officers and firefighters, adding expertise to their security measures.

However, Dr. Mosallam emphasizes that infrastructure is only part of the equation. “To have a safe and secure environment, you must have a plan and education,” he says. This approach created a specialized role – a Student Services and Emergency Specialist. This individual coordinates with local law enforcement and homeland security to develop comprehensive emergency operation plans encompassing live drills, tabletop exercises, and staff training.

Evolving Teaching Philosophies and Opportunities

Dr. Mosallam then articulates the district’s teaching philosophy with clarity, emphasizing the holistic development of each student. “It’s about looking at a child from a 360-degree lens,” he explains. This approach, particularly evident in middle school, focuses on helping students understand the long-term impact of their choices in their personal and academic lives.

A significant part of this educational strategy involves guiding students toward understanding their future possibilities. Dr. Mosallam details the use of ‘Navigate 360,’ a state-approved program during Covid, as a tool for this purpose. It’s a multifaceted program that emphasizes safety and helps students ponder their futures, including the impact of their digital footprints on social media. This initiative is part of a broader effort to make students and families aware of the lasting consequences of online activities, especially regarding future job and educational opportunities.

As students progress to seventh and eighth grades, the district undertakes an “inventory analysis” with them, probing their aspirations and interests. “We encourage students to explore various fields, not just conventional careers,” Dr. Mosallam says, highlighting the importance of helping students find their true interests. This exploratory process in middle school lays the groundwork for more personalized guidance in high school.

In high school, the information gathered from middle school students aids counselors in creating individual development plans. These plans are tailored to the strengths and aspirations of each student, a strategy that seamlessly connects middle school explorations to high school realities. Dr. Mosallam proudly speaks of the district’s partnership with Henry Ford College, which is pivotal in this phase. “Through dual enrollment programs, our students can focus their class choices based on their goals,” he states. This partnership allows students to potentially complete an associate’s degree or attain certifications in trades by the time they graduate from the Crestwood School District.

Robotics and Gaming: Pioneering New Frontiers

Dr. Mosallam also highlights the district’s robust robotics program. “We’ve invested more in our robotics program by integrating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education into our curriculum,” he explains. This investment starts as early as sixth grade when students are introduced to STEAM through electives, building a foundation that feeds into a more focused robotics program in high school.

The success of the robotics team is a point of pride. “For the last two years, our robotics team has made it to nationals,” Dr. Mosallam shares. This achievement is particularly noteworthy as the program extends beyond high school to include elementary and middle school students, ensuring continuous and early exposure to STEAM fields.

The inclusivity of the program is a crucial aspect. “Our district is largely composed of English language learners and new immigrants,” Dr. Mosallam points out, underscoring the significance of providing opportunities in STEAM and robotics to students who might not typically have access to such programs. This inclusive approach is yielding tangible benefits, as evidenced by the growing participation of English language learners in robotics.

Dr. Mosallam also highlights the district’s foray into the burgeoning field of esports, a relatively new addition to their extracurricular offerings. “We created a gaming team when we returned from Covid in 2020, and remarkably, just a year later, we were national champions,” he reveals with evident pride. This initiative goes beyond gaming; it involves students building their own PCs, intertwining practical technological skills with their passion for gaming.

Charting the Course for 2024 and Beyond

As Crestwood School District enters 2024, Dr. Mosallam outlines the ambitious goals to guide the district’s journey forward. These objectives are not just year-specific targets but stepping stones towards a long-term vision extending beyond the immediate horizon to 2030.

He begins with a commitment to academic excellence. “Our top priority is to continue growing as a lighthouse district for all students,” he asserts. This involves a focused effort on enhancing literacy and numeracy scores across the board. Improving these fundamental skills is paramount, serving as a foundation for all future learning and development.

Another key objective is the continuation and enhancement of restorative practices. “We aim to reduce office discipline referrals and prepare our students for future challenges,” he explains. This approach aligns with the district’s broader commitment to holistic education, where social and emotional learning is as crucial as academic achievement.

Fiscal responsibility remains a central theme in Dr. Mosallam’s vision for 2024. With the district’s infrastructure dating back to the 1960s, there is an acute awareness of the need for significant upgrades. “We must be fiscally sound to meet the current and future needs of our students,” he states. This fiscal prudence is not merely about balancing budgets but is integral to ensuring that the district’s physical environment matches the quality of its educational offerings.

Dr. Mosallam’s outlook for the district is relentless progress and continuous improvement. “We are always on the precipice of excitement and greatness for the next year,” he shares with an infectious optimism. This perspective is not about resting on past achievements but maintaining momentum, continually setting higher standards, and striving for excellence.

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Crestwood School District

What: An innovative educational district focusing on holistic development, advanced STEAM and arts programs, and robust community engagement

Where: Dearborn Heights, Michigan



DEAN Transportation –

Dean: Your Partner in Safe and Reliable School Transportation

At Dean Transportation, we understand the importance of quality student transportation.

Dean has partnered with Crestwood School District for more than a decade and is honored to be the district’s transportation provider. Both Crestwood and Dean strive to make a difference in the community through inclusivity, environmentally sustainable practices, innovative technology, top-notch training and community involvement.

Dean Transportation was established in the early 1950s out of a recognized need for student transportation services. Since its beginning, Dean has been recognized three times as one of the nation’s top school bus companies for its commitment to the industry.

Dean looks forward to continuing our partnership with Crestwood and taking steps in innovation to support student success. For more information about Dean Transportation and its partnerships throughout Michigan, visit

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Axiom Construction Services Group, LLC is a proactive and experienced construction company that specializes in a wide range of construction projects including building and renovating schools and fire stations. Axiom CSG partners with clients from design to completion, managing costs, schedules, contractors, and permits. Axiom CSG delivers quality projects on time and on budget.

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Trane Commercial –

Fidelity Transportation of Michigan, INC –


February 2024

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