Baruti Kafele

Baruti Kafele

Speaker: Baruti Kafele

 Award-winning principal, internationally-renowned education speaker and best-selling author


  • Closing the Attitude Gap – A Framework for the Attitude Transformation of At-Risk Students
  • School Leadership Practices for Transforming the Attitudes of At-Risk Student Populations
  • Creating a School Climate and Culture that Yield High Academic Performance
  • Effective Vice Principal LEADERSHIP
  • What Aspiring Urban School Principals Need to be Thinking About Now

A Hall of Fame urban public school educator in New Jersey for over twenty years, Principal Baruti Kafele distinguished himself as a classroom teacher and as a school leader. As an elementary school teacher in East Orange, NJ, he was selected as the East Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools Teacher of the Year.  As a middle and high school principal, he led the transformation of four different schools, including “The Mighty” Newark Tech, which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to national recognition, which included U.S. News and World Report Magazine recognizing it as one of America’s best high schools.

An internationally-renowned education speaker and consultant, Principal Kafele is one of the most sought-after speakers for transforming the attitudes of at-risk student populations in America. A versatile speaker, he regularly conducts conference keynote addresses, professional development workshops, parental engagement seminars and “hard-hitting, no-nonsense” male student empowerment assemblies. He has worked with hundreds of schools and districts over the years to assist them with closing what he calls, the “attitude gap” as both, a workshop presenter and through his consulting services.

A best-selling author, Principal Kafele is a leading authority on professional development strategies for motivating Black male students to excel in the classroom. He has written several articles for education journals on this topic and is the author of the best-selling book, Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and in Life. He is also recognized as an expert in the area of school climate and culture and has written two books on this topic – Closing the Attitude Gap: How to Fire Up Your Students to Strive for Success and A Handbook for Teachers of African American Children.

Principal Kafele is married to his wife Kimberley, and is the father of their three children, Baruti, Jabari and Kibriya. He earned his B.S. degree in Management Science/Marketing from Kean University and his M.A. degree in Educational Administration from New Jersey City University. He is the recipient of over one hundred educational, professional and community awards which include the National Alliance of Black School Educators Hall of Fame Award, the Milken National Educator Award, the New Jersey Education Association Award of Excellence and the City of Dickinson, Texas proclaiming February 8, 1998 as Baruti Kafele Day.

Closing the Attitude Gap – A Framework for the Attitude Transformation of At-Risk Students
The discussion of the racial gap in student achievement continues to be one of the most important discussions in education today; particularly as it relates to the underachievement of children of color. Equally challenging for educators is the continued underachievement of at-risk students across racial and ethnic groups. In this high-energy, interactive workshop, Principal Kafele asserts that the greatest difficulty to closing the achievement gap is the overwhelming assumption that the achievement gap is in fact, the problem. He says that the achievement gap is a consequence of the failure to adequately address the attitude gap (the gap between those students who have the will to strive for academic excellence and those who do not) that continues to persist in American classrooms. He makes the same assertion for at-risk students across racial and ethnic groups.

Principal Kafele contends that low-achieving children are actually “most brilliant and most highly capable” but their attitudes are preventing them from striving to maximize their potential. He says that when educators make the transformation of their students’ attitudes a priority, the probability for their achievement increases exponentially! Throughout this “no excuses” workshop, Principal Kafele will provide educators with strategies within a framework for closing the attitude gap toward the ultimate elimination of underachievement in their classrooms and schools. He will simultaneously challenge them to look honestly at, and within themselves toward ensuring student success. His Climate / Culture Framework for Closing the Attitude Gap is comprised of the following five strands:

• Environment for Learning
• Attitude toward Students
• Relationship with Students
• Compassion for Students
• Relevance in Instruction

This workshop is an absolute must for any school, district or college-level teacher preparation program that is serious about the “attitude transformation” of their at-risk students.
School Leadership Practices for Transforming the Attitudes of At-Risk Student Populations
The complex role of the principal is the most important role in the building! When the principal is effective, the school soars. In this high-energy, highly-interactive workshop, Principal Kafele discusses the characteristics of an effective principal and the overall leadership team of an underperforming school comprised of an at-risk student population. He will also outline what he did to lead the transformation of four different low-performing public schools in New Jersey. In his discussion on effective school leadership, Principal Kafele argues that before we can focus on closing the achievement gap, we must first focus on closing the attitude gap – the gap between those students who have the will to strive for excellence and those who do not. When the attitude gap of at-risk students is adequately addressed, the achievement gap becomes a “non-issue,” he contends. Topics include: Purposeful and Intentional Leadership, School Identity and Direction, School Climate and Culture, Building Collegial Relationships, Instructional Leadership, Accountability and Responsibility, Planning and Organization, Professional Learning for the Leadership, Professional Development for Staff, and Parental and Community Engagement.

Creating a School Climate and Culture that Yield High Academic Performance
Under the ongoing demands of No Child Left Behind to meet yearly federally-mandated assessment benchmarks, principals must first examine the prevailing climate and culture of their schools to determine whether or not both are conducive to academic success. In this high-energy and highly interactive workshop, Principal Kafele provides school leaders with strategies toward developing a school climate and culture that are conducive to high academic performance. Principal Kafele contends that regardless of the skill and ability levels of the teachers and administrators in the building, if they are operating within a toxic school environment, the probability for the school to perform at an optimal level diminishes exponentially. To that end, he is known to say that, “A toxic classroom climate and culture eats effective teaching strategies for breakfast and a toxic school climate and culture eats school mission and vision statements for lunch.”

Effective Vice Principal LEADERSHIP
In far too many schools across the U.S. – particularly inner-city urban schools, the vice principals are relegated to the role of “disciplinarian” or “Dean of Students.” They spend entire school days disciplining and suspending instead of leading and inspiring as instructional leaders must do. In this high-energy and highly interactive half or full-day seminar, Principal Kafele provides vice principals with the knowledge they need in order to function as instructional leaders as opposed to school disciplinarians. Principal Kafele contends that far too many vice principals are ill-prepared to step into the role of principal because they simply have not been trained to function as principals and they haven’t been given the day-to-day exposure to instructional leadership. This workshop will provide vice principals with the “tools” they need in order to approach their current positions differently. They will be better prepared to assist the principal instructionally, while they simultaneously prepare themselves for a principal leadership position in the future.

What Aspiring Urban School Principals Need to be Thinking About Now
In urban schools across America, there are thousands of classroom teachers who aspire to one day become school leaders. They are either thinking about enrolling in a graduate school leadership program; they are already in a program or they have completed the program but have not yet landed their first administrative position. They are hungry and eager to lead. The problem is that many of them do not have seasoned and effective school leaders that they can discuss the ins and outs of urban school leadership to help them determine if this is what they truly want to do. From afar, they see their principals in action, but unless that principal is willing or able to engage them in the long discussions about urban school leadership, chances are they are only learning through observation and from the vantage point of their classrooms. This workshop was designed for those individuals. It fills the void of those heart-to-heart conversations with a seasoned urban principal. It provides the aspiring principal with a wealth of information to think about and to consider now toward pursuing the principalship. This workshop (or series of workshops) is particularly useful as a compliment to an existing district leadership development program.


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