DEARBORN HEIGHTS — The Crestwood School District is working to ensure not only academic excellence, but also social and emotional excellence.
With students returning to the classroom, some for the first time in almost two years and some being in a new building for the first time, the school district is focusing on re-teaching students basic social skills to help pave the way for the curriculum.
Superintendent Dr. Youssef Mosallam said that this has always been a part of his vision.
“My first focus when I came here, even when I interviewed for this position, has always been the social and emotional health of students, because if there is any disruption to that then it basically acts as a roadblock for academics,” he said. “We are training and teaching restorative practices with a focus on empathy. We know that everyone has gone through this pandemic, but all of our students and families experienced and felt it differently and it’s important for students and staff to be able to listen and understand the feelings of their peers instead of trying to prioritize their own.”
Rashid Baydoun has facilitated training for all high school and middle school teachers on the restorative practices techniques and will soon begin with the new staff members and elementary schools as well.
We are doing everything that we can to create a safe and comfortable environment for our children as they come back into the school community. — Superintendent Dr. Youssef Mosallam
The overall goal is to teach students who have been learning behind a computer screen how to socialize in person again.
At the beginning of class, students will circle up for about 10 to 15 minutes to discuss key points and feelings on specific topics with their peers and teacher prior to getting into the curriculum for the day.
“We hit this at 100 miles per hour,” Mosallam said. “As adults, we’ve used this kind of technique between staff as well.”
Mosallam also said that this is not just a Crestwood initiative, but a community initiative.
“We are working with everyone in the city,” he said. “We are doing everything that we can to create a safe and comfortable environment for our children as they come back into the school community.”
The district is also asking parents to do their part by keeping children off electronic devices beyond homework and pushing them to join clubs or spend time with their friends in person.