PMP403: Be the Change with Principal Baruti Kafele and Dr. Jen Schwanke

If you’ve not yet heard of Principal Kafele, this podcast captures him in a conversation with Dr. Jen Schwanke—a conversation that gets to the heart of why he is one of the most distinguished and transformational speakers and leaders of our generation. 

A highly-regarded urban educator in New Jersey for over twenty years, Principal Baruti Kafele served as an elementary teacher, assistant principal, and high school principal before becoming the author and renowned speaker he is today. Jen first met Principal Kafele at an ASCD writer’s event in October of 2016 just after she had published her first book. She was so excited when ASCD brought the two of them together, and it led to a longtime collegial connection that is evident in this podcast episode. 

Episode highlights:

Among other things, they discuss Kafele’s very first book, titled, The Black Parent’s Handbook to Educating Your Children (Outside the Classroom), which came to life during a period when Kafele was “Mr. Mom” and staying at home temporarily with an infant. Written in a notebook—this was before PCs were in wide usage— and self-published with help from friends, the book sold over 60,000 copies thanks to Kafele’s hustle and his personal mission to get it in the hands of anyone who needed it. 

Jen and Kafele also discuss the importance of taking care of oneself while on the road or running a school; about how students have changed post-pandemic and how those changes affect the teachers and leaders who oversee them; and how attitude is the essential factor in both loving and succeeding as a school leader. 

Over the years, Principal Kafele has continued to write important books for school leaders, has developed a popular YouTube channel, and has presented around the world on topics such as creating a positive school climate, improving school culture, transforming the attitudes of at-risk students, motivating Black males to excel in the classroom, and school leadership practices for inspiring school-wide excellence. 

If you are looking for more information, check out Kafele’s website, or any of his thirteen books, including seven ASCD best sellers – Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School & in Life, Closing the Attitude Gap, Is My School a Better School BECAUSE I Lead It?, The Teacher 50, The Principal 50, The Assistant Principal 50 and The Equity & Social Justice Education 50. Principal Kafele is also the creator and host of the popular AP & New Principals Academy, streamed live every Saturday morning on his AP & New Principals Academy YouTube channel at 10:55 ET. He has been awarded the coveted Milken Educator Award as well as various other distinguished awards for his work.

Here is just one favorite quote from the interview: 

“I often tell people that the ideal life is one where you can live according to your own terms. The world will be as it is, but I am determined to maintain my individuality and attitude within it. The world will not bring me down. Of course, there will be days when I am not as upbeat as others; we are all human, after all. However, I am committed to ensuring that, if there is one thing I can control in life, it is my attitude. I have the ability to control how I feel about my day, about myself, and about my circumstances. It is crucial for me to manage these feelings and not allow the world to dictate or influence them for me.”

Listen to the entire episode for even more takeaways, including why Principal Kafele has been so motivated to help education leaders. You will be inspired by his dedication and his commitment to doing whatever it takes to make changes.

Thank you for learning together, and thank you for doing what matters!

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker