Sharif El-Mekki is the principal of Mastery Charter School Shoemaker Campus in West Philadelphia. This post was originally posted on Education Post, in which El-Mekki shares why more Black males should accept the call to teach.
Had you asked me 25 years ago—and some people did—if I’d become an educator, I would have said, “No way! Why would I work in a school?”
I knew I wanted to work in some realm of social justice and, at the time, I thought that there were much better, faster and easier ways to make an impact, to tilt the scales of justice back in favor of our youth.
At various times, throughout college and immediately after graduating, I kept thinking, how can I make a difference? How can I serve my community best? What is the revolutionary thing to do?
When I reflect on what led me to make the ultimate decision to become a “Nation Builder” (a teacher), I know that my experience as a student, unbeknownst to me at the time, was one of the main reasons.
My teachers raised Freedom Fighters and determined leaders. We used a pan-African, Freedom School model that raised our consciousness, politicized us and educated us. They armed us not only with academic knowledge, but also instilled a strong and deep-rooted understanding that we were responsible for our communities.
If more men realized the power of leading a classroom—how it is the most important lever in this fight for social justice and equity, and both challenges and offers uniquely amazing rewards—more highly qualified and gifted Black male educators would sign up to do this nation building. Many who could be Freedom Fighters are searching for how to make an impact, and most are encouraged not to lead in classrooms and schools. This must change.
Read entire article at Education Post.
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