About YMCA Education Services

YMCA Educational Services, (Y-ES), is a wholly-owned and operated subsidiary of the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit dedicated to children and building on the 100-year educational mission of the YMCA. YMCA Education Services is solely and wholly focused on the needs and unique learning styles of Michigan’s most promising youth who live in the region’s most challenged communities.

From the establishment of the Detroit College of Law in 1891 to founding of the YMCA’s Hudson School for Boys in 1916, the YMCA’s roots in education today give seed to the third YMCA created charter primary school and now a high school designed to graduate world-class learners with a global future.

About Our Schools


The mission of each YMCA Detroit Academy is to provide a stimulating and supportive environment that empowers students to achieve their greatest potential and to be leaders in the community.


The founders of the YMCA Detroit Academies envision a school and overall learning environment where students are given the best possible chance to make a difference in their lives, their families and their communities. The Academy is a place where students are immersed in learning and growth opportunities using best practice instructional approaches and provided with unique motivational experiences. An expectation that all students can achieve academic excellence will form the foundation of structured teaching and learning at the Academy.

Our graduates experience Success and are academically prepared to take advantage of opportunities in a changing society. They are innovative leaders in their field, healthy individuals and community advocates who make a positive difference in the world.

Our parents experience a sense of Pride due to the progress and success of their children. As highly respected partners in the educational process, parents work cooperatively with school personnel to establish goals, support their child’s continual learning and pursuit of a college education.

Our staff experiences a sense of Accomplishment and is held in high esteem. Staff work collaboratively, are highly qualified, innovative, effective, and committed to the success of all students. The Academy staff are positive youth role models.

Our community views the Academy as a Model for other schools and organizations. The school is innovative in its thinking and program offerings and is committed to quality education for all students. The community readily partners with the Academy to empower students and strengthen the community.


The Academy establishes:

  • A positive school climate and culture for all students, staff, and stakeholders cultivated through emphasizing core values, embracing leadership and personal responsibilities, caring about oneself as well as one’s family and the broader community, a global perspective towards issues, and a balanced life style of mind, body and spirit.
  • A school culture that celebrates learning and intellectual curiosity in a safe, secure environment that respects each student’s right to learn.
  • A variety of adult role models that exemplify the values, ideals and work ethic that contributes to academic success and good citizenship.
  • A set of values, norms and behaviors that become part of each student’s personal experience and give rise to a strong commitment to community service and care for one another.
  • Programs, activities and wrap-around services that provide students with the skills and confidence necessary for success in college, work and life.

Students attending the Academy will:

  • acquire an enduring love for learning;
  • engage in innovative learning activities;
  • demonstrate an understanding of traditional ethical principles;
  • exhibit good citizenship and leadership skills;
  • participate in community service projects; and
  • commit to living a healthier lifestyle.

About Our Leadership

Under the direction of our school board and administrators, the YMCA Detroit Academies are dedicated to the enrichment and support of students.

Shawn Hill Superintendent of Schools, YMCA Educational Services

Shawn HillShawn Hill joined the YMCA Detroit Leadership Academy as the School Superintendent and Principal in 2010. Shawn received her Bachelor of Science in Education with a concentration in math and science from Eastern Michigan University. Upon graduating, Shawn spent seven years teaching math and science in Flint, Grand Rapids and Detroit Public Schools. In 2002, Shawn obtained her Master of Arts in Educational Leadership, from Eastern Michigan University and holds a K-12 administrative certificate.

In 2000, Shawn was one of the founding teachers of University Prep Academy (UPA) MS and served as principal for six years. During her tenure as principal, UPA continuously met the states requirement for Annual Yearly Progress and exceeded statewide averages on the MEAP test. In 2008, Shawn became the founding principal of University Prep Science & Math (UPSM) MS. During her time at UPSM, Shawn was the co-administrative leader of the University Prep Science & Math and Detroit Science Center (DSC) Integration Project and the University of Michigan College of Engineering Outreach partnership which placed Engineering students in UPSM classrooms to collaborate with advisors around curriculum/content.

As the YMCA Detroit Leadership Academy continues to expand, Shawn has assumed the role of Superintendent of Schools. In her new leadership role, she will oversee the YMCA Detroit Leadership Academy, including its expansion to a K-12 configuration, and work closely with YMCA Educational Services in the development of a second charter school.

Julian A. Roper Principal

Julian A. RoperAs the YMCA Detroit Leadership Academy enters into its second year, Mr. Roper has now assumed the role of Principal. Serving as Assistant Principal at YDLA during its inaugural year, Julian became the obvious choice to replace Ms. Hill.

The father of three children, Julian is a native of Detroit and a product of the Detroit Public Schools. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State, and his MA from Wayne State. He is currently pursuing an Educational Specialist degree from Wayne State University. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

Julian has worked with at risk children and families in the City of Detroit for nearly ten years, serving as a special education teacher, parent and community liaison, attendance agent and athletic director for Detroit Public Schools and Spectrum Juvenile Detroit Services.

When Mr. Roper is not on the school grounds, you might look for him on a golf course, as he is an avid golfer.

School Board

The YMCA Detroit Leadership Academy School is governed by the YMCA Detroit Leadership Academy Public School Board of Directors.  The Academy is a public charter school recognized by the Michigan Department of Education.  The charter is held by Central Michigan University.

Ehrlich Crain

Ehrlich CrainEhrlich is Vice President, Business Development with White Construction, a Detroit based minority owned Construction Company. White actively performs commercial, retail, public/municipal, educational, health care and light industrial construction. He currently provides senior management for all business development, planning, marketing and administrative actions and activities for the firm within all market sectors. With over 30 years experience in construction and real estate development, Ehrlich previously served as Vice President, Land Planning & Development for Crosswinds Communities, a national residential and commercial real estate development firm. Ehrlich initiated his career with Walbridge Aldinger and Barton Malow as a Project Manager and Manager of Business Development.

Ehrlich serves on many civic and community boards and committees, including Vice Chairman of the State of Michigan Building Authority Board of Directors and the Board of Directors for the Detroit Downtown Development Authority. Ehrlich recently was appointed to serve on the Board of the new Detroit Leadership Academy, a new Charter School in the City of Detroit partnered with the Detroit YMCA. He is a Life Member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, past Graduate of the Detroit Regional Chamber Leadership Detroit Program, and an active member of the Detroit Athletic Club.

Ehrlich is an alumnus of Cass Technical High School in Detroit and Western Michigan University. He is currently Vice Chair of the Board of Homes for Black Children, the nation’s oldest Adoption and Foster Care Agency which specializes in adoption, foster care and family preservation for minority children and families. Ehrlich and his wife, Yolanda live in Detroit and have one adult son, Michael who resides in Atlanta, Georgia.

Harold G. Curry

Harold G. CurryHarold G. Curry is the District President of Michigan Commerce Bank, a subsidiary of Capitol Bancorp. Michigan Commerce Bank is a full service financial institution providing an array of business and individual banking products and services.

Harold joined Michigan Commerce Bank (Formerly Detroit Commerce Bank as President and CEO) in 2003 after many years with Banc One Corporation and its predecessors (First Chicago NBD Corporation and National Bank of Detroit) where he served as Group Manager and First Vice President for middle market commercial lending in Canada, Michigan and Ohio. His diverse background features extensive experience in management, commercial lending, financial analysis and marketing. His strengths include organizational change management, execution of business planning, portfolio management, product delivery and profit and loss management.

Harold’s career while primarily in commercial banking has been diverse as he served as the General Manager and CFO for Bing Steel and in various capacities with other small businesses.

Harold has been recognized for his ability to initiate change, build strong teams, conduct business in a professional manner with the highest level of integrity while continuously being involved and sharing his time with the community.

Harold earned is bachelor’s degree in finance from Wayne State University. Harold and his wife, Dorothy have lived in the Detroit area all of there lives and have two adult children, Halima and Harold II.

Diane R. Jackson, Ph.D.

Diane R. JacksonDiane is the Program Development Director for the Michigan Principals Fellowship and the Michigan Coaches Institute. She has over 30 years experience in education and curriculum development, has extensive training and facilitation experience locally and nationally and has practiced as a cognitive coach.

Diane served as a Program Supervisor/Least Restrictive Environment Specialist in the Office of Specialized Student Services for the Detroit Public Schools. In that role she was responsible for designing, organizing, presenting and facilitating professional development for access to the general education curriculum. She has been a peer coach to general education and special education teachers in the language arts, staff development specialist, teacher and coordinator for The Detroit Efficacy Elementary and Middle School City-Wide Program and adjunct professor at Wayne State University.

Diane spent nine years as a national trainer and education consultant for The Efficacy Institute in Lexington, Massachusetts where she was responsible for delivery and facilitation of the Efficacy Seminar to educational and human service institutions across the United States. Her extensive professional development includes Institutes at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, Center for Adaptive Schools, Cognitive Coaching Institute and Thinking Maps, Inc.

Diane has served on community boards and committees, including the Efficacy Detroit Educator and Volunteer Collaborative, YMCA College Coalition, and Mount Vernon Park Association.

Diane holds degrees in Special Education and Instructional Technology. Her Ph.D. is in Curriculum and Instruction with a cognate in Educational Psychology. She has published articles in educational journals and is writing her first poetry and childrens’ book.

Diane has lived in the Southfield area for 10 years and is the mother of two adult daughters, Malika and Makini.

Mark R. Lezotte

Mark R. LezotteMark is a shareholder in the law firm of Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman PLLC, practicing in the firm’s office in Troy, Michigan (Hall Render also has offices in Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and Louisville). He was previously general counsel of Oakwood Healthcare, Inc., a nonprofit hospital system in suburban Detroit, and before that an attorney and shareholder in a large Detroit law firm.

Mark has substantial experience in corporate, health care, tax, and exempt organization legal matters, including business acquisitions and dispositions, exempt-organization tax issues, and corporate and nonprofit governance. He has conducted presentations on a number of topics involving health law and nonprofit organizations, including tax and regulatory matters affecting nonprofit organizations, and board duties and responsibilities. He was selected to “Michigan Super Lawyers” (health care law), published by Law & Politics Magazine in 2008 and 2009; and received the United Cerebral Palsy Association National Chairperson’s Award in 2004. Mark has also been active in numerous professional organizations, and has held leadership positions in state and federal bar organizations.

Mark has served on many civic and community boards and committees, including the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit, United Cerebral Palsy Association, Metropolitan Affairs Coalition, Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, and United Way Community Services.

He received his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, and a B.B.A. from the University of Michigan School of Business. Mark and his wife, Patricia Little, live in Detroit and have two teenagers, Adam and Ellen.

Dan Piepszowski

Dan PiepszowskiDan Piepszowski is the Senior Director of Community Leadership Development at the Detroit Regional Chamber. He leads organization’s leadership development and engagement efforts which includes Leadership Detroit program. Dan is responsible for recruiting and developing leaders and is a subject matter expert on a range of issues impacting the Region. He develops partnerships and collaborative efforts that result in innovative solutions to longstanding issues in education, race relations, non-profit leadership, and economic development.

Dan has over twenty years of experience in community leadership. He has worked as consultant to nonprofit and government entities. He served as a vice president for New Detroit and a department director for the Archdiocese of Detroit. He has shown an unbending commitment to improving race relations in the region. Dan was recently recognized as a the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2009 diversity champion.

Dan is active on many local and statewide organizations, including the State Commission on Community Action and Economic Opportunity, Mentor Michigan Leadership Council, United Way Detroit Coordinating Committee, and the St. Clare of Montefalco School Advisory Board. Dan is graduate of Leadership Detroit XVII.

Dan earned a bachelor’s degree with honors and master’s degree in Public Administration from Western Michigan University. Dan and his wife Suzanne live in Detroit and have five children between the ages of 12 and 20.