Mastery Principal, Sharif El-Mekki: Leading with Equity and Justice
The Education Trust
by Robin Harris
On the first day of school at Mastery Charter Shoemaker, principal Sharif El-Mekki welcomes students and staff not only back to school, but “back to nation-building.” The school serves almost 800 middle- and high-schoolers. Add the adults and the roster nears 900. That’s more than double the population of the world’s smallest country. So, technically, Shoemaker could be a small nation on its own.
But El-Mekki’s call for nation-building echoes beyond the walls of Shoemaker. As the son of Black Panther Party members and activists, he was taught that we are all responsible not just for those inside your home, but for your community. He was also taught that you needed tangible skills to live up to that responsibility, e.g., learning how to be a good reader, a good communicator, how to build a coalition, and be a good public speaker. Therefore, when El-Mekki evokes nation-building, it’s a charge for Shoemaker’s students not just to get an education, but to lead and serve in their communities and for Shoemaker’s teachers and leaders to ensure students have what they need to do so.