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Principal Ambassador Fellowship Program

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Sharif El-Mekki
Campus Principal Ambassador Fellow

Philadelphia, PA

Photo of Sharif El-Mekki, Campus Principal Ambassador Fellow
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Bio/Overview: For the past six years, El-Mekki has been the proud principal at Mastery Charter School-Shoemaker Campus, a neighborhood public charter that serves 750 students in grades 7-12. After attending an elementary Freedom School as a child, middle school in Iran, and Overbrook High School in Philadelphia, El-Mekki attended IUP 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 7 years, he became an administrator at Turner and Shaw Middle Schools- both located in southwest Philadelphia - before becoming a principal in 2007.

Educational Values/Philosophy: El-Mekki’s career has been based on the idea that all children should at least be afforded the educational experiences that they would desire for their own children. He believes that a child’s zip code should not be the obstacle a child faces to receive a strong and robust education that paves the way for him/her to be successful in a forever changing world. El-Mekki 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 (success of their children) is fulfilled.

Achievements: 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 has awarded the Shoemaker Campus with 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 was a finalist for the prestigious Ryan Jack award, which recognizes principals who exemplify Transformational Leadership and supports their teams in developing Academic Accelerators through Systems and Structures that Matter Most and High-Impact Teaching. Currently, El-Mekki serves on Mayor Michael Nutter’s Mayor’s Commission on African American Males and is a Fellow with America Achieves, a non-profit organization that helps communities, states, and practitioners leverage policy, practice, and leadership to build high-quality educational systems and prepare each young person for success in careers, college, and citizenship. El-Mekki is also a founding board member and secretary of the David P. Richardson, Jr. Institute for Leadership and Civic Participation.

Education: El-Mekki holds a Bachelor’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and gained his Master’s degree and Principal Certification from Cheyney University.

Areas of Interest/Expertise:

  • Accessibility To Higher Education
  • Developing Community Based Schools
  • Family And Community Engagement
  • Professionalizing Careers In Education

Last Modified: 12/12/2013