Two Black Male Principals Who Impact Black Boys and a Black Principal

I have previously written about the lasting legacy mentors provide for our communities. I am one of those recipients. As a new principal, not only did I receive formal mentoring from my school’s principal and new principal coaches, I also benefited from informal mentoring and friendship.

Two of the experienced Black male principals that supported me as I learned the nuances of the role are still leading in schools and communities. Salome Thomas-El who would even cover my school for me when I was arrested for being a Black Muslim attending an anti-war protest and Hilderbrand Pelzer III are both still principals, still mentoring, and still making an impact.

As a young Black male educator, their guidance and support contributed mightily to my success. Some of what they offered was space to talk and reflect about my experiences. And, although today, I am much longer in the tooth, I still view them as significant and influential in my development as a school and community leader.

Hilderbrand recently wrote a piece in the Philadelphia Citizen highlighting why Black male achievement levels are lagging and what can be done about it when people have moral clarity.

I believe the reason for the problem with black male achievement is very simple: Black boys are the victims of low expectations from school teachers and leaders who are afraid of their behavior, of daring them to teach them.

 In his book, Young, Black, and Male in America: An Endangered Species, J.T. Gibbs writes, “the majority of African American males, particularly those in urban centers, are categorized and stereotyped by the five Ds: dumb, deprived, dangerous, deviant, and disturbed.” These stereotypes contribute to the fear among some educators concerning black boys, which dumbs down the instructional rigor that these students need to achieve a high-quality education.

Hilderbrand Pelzer III’s article is a must read. You can check it out here.

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About the author

Sharif El-Mekki

Sharif El-Mekki is the principal of Mastery Charter School–Shoemaker Campus, a neighborhood public charter school in Philadelphia that serves 750 students in grades 7-12. From 2013-2015, he was one of three principal ambassador fellows working on issues of education policy and practice with U.S. Department of Education under Secretary Arne Duncan.

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