Principal Kafele On Closing the Other Gaps

In a conference focused on closing achievement gaps once for all, Newark Tech High School principal Baruti Kafele took a different stance. Speaking about motivating black males in school and life, Kafele said, “I’m not concerned with the achievement gap.” For Kafele, more relevant to his students were the

  • attitude gap
  • relationship gap
  • opportunity gap
  • relevance gap
  • learning gap

For Kafele’s students, and for many black boys, failing to attend to these gaps means the difference between a business suit or a prison jumpsuit. I teach my students, then I teach the content, noted Kafele. “I have to know my students first to deliver content—relationships are key.”

Kafele starts every day with the reflection, Who am I? Why am I? What is my role? What is your most recent evidence? Early in his career, Principal Kafele set his purpose with working with boys at his school: teach them something about who they are, entrepreneurship, & manhood. He asked his audience to examine why they teach?

“We must always remain mindful of the power and influence we possess as educators, and we must use every opportunity we have throughout the day to make our students aware of their greatness. If we fail to do this, the streets have a way of picking up the slack.”

What gaps threaten your students success? What do you do daily to close these gaps?