Sharif El-MekkiFounder of the Center for Black Educator Development Philadelphia, PA Award Year: 2021
Sharif El-Mekki founded the Center for Black Educator Development in 2019 to revolutionize education by increasing the number of Black educators so that low-income Black students, as well as other disenfranchised students, can reap the full benefits of a quality public education. Sharif began his career in 1992 as a teacher through an alternative certification program for Black men. After 10 years teaching at a middle school, Sharif began a five-year principalship where he led a school turnaround team, significantly raising student achievement and creating a nurturing student-centered environment. He went on to become principal of Mastery Charter School–Shoemaker Campus. During his time with Mastery Shoemaker his team received recognition by President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and the community for having created a school that partners successfully with its community to dramatically improve student learning. Sharif also founded The Fellowship: Black Male Educators for Social Justice served as a Principal Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education, is a featured writer in Education Week, Philly’s 7th Ward, and Education Post, and is a member of the 8 Black Hands podcast.
Sharif will use a portion of his award to support Phillys7thWard.org, a community based blog featuring writers who are Black educators, teaching and leading in different spaces where Black voices aren’t usually centered. Sharif will add writers to provide more content and establish a further reach with more depth and diversity. He is also using his award to establish a scholarship in his mother’s honor, Aisha El-Mekki, at Mastery Charter Shoemaker Campus. The Scholarship is awarded to two aspiring educator activists per year.
Sharif will also use a portion of his award to write a book documenting his experiences as an educator and a child raised in a community of activists.
Sharif has written several op-eds on the importance of teacher diversity, including: The Value of Teacher Diversity and This Is the Moment to Tackle Teacher Diversity. We Can’t Wait. Sharif was featured in several articles over the past year on Philadelphia Freedom Schools, including Chalkbeat and The Philadelphia Inquirer.