Sharif El-Mekki

Blogger

Principal, Mastery Charter School Shoemaker Campus

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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.

After attending an elementary Freedom School as a child, middle school in Iran, and Overbrook High School in Philadelphia, El-Mekki attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania as a criminal justice major. After a brief stint as a social worker and counselor at the Youth Study Center, he became eager to make a community-focused impact. As the son of an educator and activists, El-Mekki had a strong desire to dive into a cause that would address issues relating to social justice, equity and educational opportunities. Through a friend, he learned of an opportunity to become a teacher through an alternative certification program for African-American men.

After teaching for almost nine years, El-Mekki became an administrator at Turner and Shaw middle schools—both traditional public schools located in Southwest Philadelphia—before becoming a principal in 2007.

El-Mekki’s team at the Shoemaker Campus have been recognized by President Obama and Oprah Winfrey for having created a school that partners with communities to turnaround failing schools. New Leaders awarded the Shoemaker Campus the prestigious EPIC award for three consecutive years as being amongst the top three schools in the country for accelerating students’ achievement levels. Shoemaker Campus was also recently recognized as one of the top ten middle school and top ten high schools in the state of Pennsylvania for accelerating the achievement levels of African-American students.

El-Mekki himself was a finalist for the prestigious Ryan Fellowship, he served on Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s Commission on African American Males, and he is a fellow with America Achieves. El-Mekki is also a founding board member and secretary of the David P. Richardson Jr. Institute for Leadership and Civic Participation.

El-Mekki believes that a child’s zip code should not be the obstacle a child faces to receiving a strong and robust education that paves the way for success in a forever changing world. He also believes that it takes educated youth to make a positive impact on society, and schools should be direct and trustworthy partners for their surrounding communities. The role of educators is to ensure that their partnerships with families and community members are supportive of students in developing the academic and personal skills necessary to successfully serve and lead in their communities. As a proponent of the “Excellence, No Excuses” mindset, El-Mekki believes that school-based teams must continue to leverage their strengths on behalf of students in order to ensure the promise delivered to families is fulfilled.

El-Mekki holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and gained his master’s degree and principal certification from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.

El-Mekki blogs at Philly’s 7th Ward.

RECENT POSTS

Posted June 16, 2017

I Have 770 Children. Okay, Not Really. But I Love My Students All the Same.

“Education among all kinds of men, always had, and always will have, an element of…revolution.” —W.E.B DuBois “The most revolutionary…

By Sharif El-Mekki

Read Post

Posted June 7, 2017

I Was a Principal in Southwest Philly and That Didn’t Stop These Black Cops From Pulling Me Over

All year our eighth-grade students have been grappling with social justice issues and how to address them. They’ve closely analyzed…

By Sharif El-Mekki

Read Post

Posted May 4, 2017

Champion for Charters Sen. Anthony Williams Supports What Works for Kids. Period.

As an early-career teacher, there were people who made some real contributions to my classroom’s culture and instruction. Obviously, some…

By Sharif El-Mekki

Read Post

Posted Apr. 14, 2017

9 Things Every Educator Should Know When Teaching Black Students

Most of my educational experiences as a child were in an all-Black spaces and all of my experiences as an…

By Sharif El-Mekki

Read Post

Posted Apr. 3, 2017

The Second Great Migration for Black Families Is Embracing School Choice

Like hundreds of thousands of Black families, my paternal grandmother and several of her relatives participated in the Great Migration,…

By Sharif El-Mekki

Read Post

Posted Mar. 13, 2017

We Don’t Need Any More Allies. We Need Accomplices in the Fight for Justice.

@MsPackyetti "Allies take up space; accomplices take up risk." #SummitX #UNDENIABLE — SFER (@SFERnational) March 5, 2017 This month, I…

By Sharif El-Mekki

Read Post

Posted Feb. 27, 2017

Do You Know This Hidden Figure? Meet Legendary Black Educator Dr. Anna Julia Cooper

A multitude of hidden figures silently loom in our shadows, yet those who know understand that as Black people we…

By Sharif El-Mekki

Read Post

Posted Feb. 9, 2017

#MyBlackHistory: What Do Black Panthers Have to Do With a Charter School Principal? Let Me Tell You

Education was fundamental to the Black Panther Party, and it remains true for social justice activists today.…

By Sharif El-Mekki

Read Post

Posted Jan. 25, 2017

Black Families Have a Long History of Using School Choice as Resistance to Racist and Inadequate School Systems

National School Choice Week is an independent public awareness effort spotlighting effective education options for children, including traditional public schools,…

By Sharif El-Mekki

Read Post

Posted Jan. 12, 2017

Trump Might Want to Scrap the Office of Civil Rights, But the Work Continues

In a community not too far from my home of Philadelphia, yet light years away in the tony suburb of…

By Sharif El-Mekki

Read Post

OUR NETWORK

Featured Posts

Posted Sep. 11, 2017

Just Because Trump and DeVos Like Charter Schools Doesn’t Mean You Can’t, Too

A while ago school choice policies were gaining steam across the country. Charter schools and vouchers were still somewhat controversial, but more and more people…

By Andrew Pillow

Read Post

Posted Sep. 12, 2017

Don’t Get Angry, Get Eva

Somehow, while managing a sprawling network of public charter schools serving 15,000 children, engaging in the day-to-day political combat of New York, and raising three…

By Peter Cunningham

Read Post

Posted Sep. 12, 2017

All the Black Kids Are Still Sitting Together in the Cafeteria

I attended a predominantly Latino grammar school. We were all friends for the most part—the Black students, Mexican students and the few White students that…

By Tanesha Peeples

Read Post

Browse by Date

Keep Up With
Education Post

Sign up for weekly emails featuring our top blog posts:

Want more? Get our morning update and join us in #Voices4Ed.

What We’re
Tweeting