Sunday, May 5, 2024

Reflecting on 4 Years of the AP & New Principals Academy


It’s practically surreal that a project I started on May 2, 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic is still going strong 4 years later and hasn’t lost its relevancy. Said differently, 210 weeks later or said even differently, 425 hours later in terms of the amount of hours that have been livestreamed. In fact, the platform is much larger now than it was back then because it is now global.


I created this platform as an 18-week virtual academy to address the assistant principalship which I have stated emphatically over the past decade as “the most misunderstood and underutilized position in all of education.” I was keenly aware that I was connected to a ton of AP’s nationally via social media so I went on and launched the Virtual AP Leadership Academy. For the first two months, I used my phone, tablet and laptop as my cameras with a pretty funny looking set up but it worked. Then my man, Dr. William Flip Clay turned me on to Streamyard and the rest is history.


Once I hit 18 weeks which was the last week in August, 2020 and I saw that thousands were either still tuning in live or watching the videos on YouTube, I knew I couldn’t stop. In fact, it would be ridiculous to stop so I kept it going, and it grew and grew and grew. Now, when I speak at national, state and international conferences, I ask my audiences, “Where’s my AP & New Principals Academy fam,” and there’s always a good number of people in those audiences who are a part of the fam. We take a group picture together and then I turn to face them and deliver a short “Message to the Fam.”


For 52 weeks, I went solo for about 90 minutes per session but after that first year, I decided that it was time to bring in some other voices onto the platform, starting with my friend of over 40 years, Dr. Vincent Stalling and now to date, I have had over 150 informative, inspiring and empowering guests to grace the platform. Each of them have been a blessing to thousands of school and district leaders, not to mention the aspiring leaders who tune in regularly.


Last summer, life compelled me to rebrand meaning after Year 3. Why? Because of the volume of assistant principals who were telling me that the academy was instrumental in them getting principal appointments and therefore feeling that the academy was no longer for them. They were inaccurate with their assessment….it was more for them now than ever before but I resultantly changed the name and focus of the platform to the AP & New Principals Academy (from Virtual AP Leadership Academy) and defining new principal as 5 years, and we have been the AP & New Principals Academy ever since.


I am extremely proud of this aspect of my work. As everyone who will read this commentary knows, I am a professional speaker. I get paid to speak to audiences about topics that I am absolutely passionate about. I couldn’t live my life any other way. I am blessed. I call that my “day job.” As much as I love my day job, my day job is NOT my most important work. My most important work is the AP & New Principals Academy. I don’t get paid a dime for this work…nor do I want to. Many want to pay me but I typically refuse it. The Academy is a labor of love. Normally, each session takes me a week to prepare for so while I’m on those night flights fighting to stay awake, I am preparing for the next session with the intent of delivering a high quality session each week. The AP & New Principals Academy is a labor of love and my contribution to the world. I am known to say to fellow speakers, be sure that you don’t have a price tag on every word you utter. Have something that you simply give away to the world for free. That’s where your blessings come from. God continues to bless me.


As I close, I am excited for what Year 5 will bring. Of course, my intent is always that The Academy is not just a feel good Saturday activity, but that it is impacting leaders, teachers and children whom I may never meet. I just want to do my small part in making the world a little better than it is while operating and functioning within my lane.


See you next Saturday for #WEEK211.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

What You Don’t Know Just Might Be What’s Inhibiting Your Leadership Growth and Development


Before I get started, did you catch yesterday’s session (12/23/23) of the AP & New Principals Academy (WEEK191) with my guest, Director of the Office of Violence Prevention & Trauma Recovery in Newark, NJ, Keesha Eure? We had a powerful conversation on the topic,
A Conversation on Violence Prevention & Trauma Recovery in Schools. If you missed it, see it here:


As I sat there listening to Director Eure, I was reminded of a recurring theme in my mind with so many of the guests I have had on the platform….there’s so much that I simply didn’t know as a school leader. As a principal over a period of fourteen years, I prided myself on being well-informed and an ongoing learner of all things education and leadership but to know it all is probably an impossibility. Be that as it may, when I sit right in this seat every Saturday morning and listen to my guests, I’m thinking to myself, “WOW…had I known this, I could have done this or I could have accomplished that.” In other words, in listening to my guests, not only am I learning something new, but I am also discovering what I either didn’t know or what I don’t know. My point then is that there is so much to learn and know in school leadership.


The world is constantly changing and evolving daily. The children that I led twelve years ago are not the children of today. The teachers that I led twelve years ago are not the teachers of today. Both the children and teachers of 2023 are operating in a world today that is vastly different from the world that I led in twelve years ago. My question to you is as you consider your current leadership philosophy, approach, strategies and style, are they current and consistent with the times and with the population that you lead? Is there any chance that your leadership philosophy, approach, strategies and style are outdated, misinformed, obsolete, irrelevant or out of touch with today’s climate? Whew! It matters. I am often asked would I ever consider going back to school leadership. I think about it daily and I dream about it nightly. The reality though is the question, “Do I possess the skillset to lead today?” Said differently, “Do I currently know what I need to know to lead effectively in today’s schools?” I would think that I do because I have remained current in my learning, but this essay isn’t about me…it’s about you. Do you know what you need to know in order to be highly effective as a leader today?


The title of this essay is, What You Don’t Know Just Might Be What’s Inhibiting Your Leadership Growth and Development. What I am implying in the title is simply that learning matters. If the last book relative to your work that you read was in graduate school, that’s a problem. And I use the word “book” loosely. Whatever your source of learning, you must engage in it. You must learn, learn and learn. Your students are dependent upon it. Your teachers are dependent upon it because at the end of the day, the challenges in your school are immense. I don’t expect you to know it all. That would be unrealistic of me. I am saying however that as a school leader, learning must be an ongoing priority and it must be intentional because at the end of the day, “What you don’t know just might be what’s inhibiting your leadership growth and development.”


For more discussion on the role of the assistant principal and the new principal, visit my AP & New Principals Academy YouTube channel, subscribe, and see them all here:

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Every Assistant Principal Deserves a Champion!

Before I get started, did you catch yesterday’s session (12/16/23) of the AP & New Principals Academy (WEEK190) with my guest, Dr. Marques Stewart? We had a powerful conversation on the topic,
Navigating Difficult Conversations in the Workplace. If you missed it, see it here:


When the great educator, Rita Pearson uttered the words, “Every child deserves a champion,” I wonder if she even imagined that her words would become immortalized worldwide. It’s a powerful quote and I continue to use it regularly. In fact, the entire quote reads:


“Every child deserves a champion—an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”


As many who will read this essay know, I am fully locked in on the role of the assistant principal and the new principal (1st – 5th year). For this essay, I will focus on the AP. I believe with every fiber of my being that the assistant principal needs a champion…a PRINCIPAL “who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be!”


The assistant principalship is so critical to a school that I have argued for years that, “The assistant principalship is the most misunderstood and underutilized position in all of education.” In other words, the days of the assistant principal being reduced to a full time disciplinarian for example must end…and this is particularly so in urban environments where I spent my entire twenty-one year career. The problem is when there is a district-wide culture that exists and it is assumed…an unwritten given that the role of the assistant principal is to react and respond to discipline…undesirable behaviors all day, week, month, year and throughout their tenure. In a situation like this, the assistant principal deserves a champion! They need someone who concludes that the assistant principalship is NOT a disciplinary role but instead the 2nd in command to the principalship. The assistant principal therefore needs a principal who not only understands that the assistant principal must be nurtured into becoming a multi-faceted amazing leader, but requires a principal who is a staunch advocate for the assistant principal becoming the multi-faceted amazing leader that he/she was meant to be. The assistant principal deserves a champion! And that champion must be the principal. That’s right, I said it. The principal MUST BE a champion for his / her assistant principal.


Imagine an assistant principal who supervises “X” number of teachers but seldom if ever has the time to coach them, or to supervise them, or to observe them, or to assess them…and these same teachers are in classrooms with children every day and are not in collegial relationships with their evaluators of record. Children suffer immeasurably in these situations. Children are not the only ones who suffer though. Society suffers immeasurably as well because the children who are in classrooms with teachers who lack coaching toward becoming amazing will become the adults of the world very shortly. Just imagine how the trajectory of a child is impacted when his / her teacher performs at extraordinary levels consistently due to sustained coaching. The assistant principal deserves a champion...and that champion is the principal


Imagine an assistant principal who’s a full time disciplinarian coupled with daily cafeteria duty (which can comprise two to four instructional periods per day I might add) and never has or had exposure to a school budget. The assistant principal never learned how money is allocated relative to accounts, never learned how to balance a budget, never learned the process of spending money, never learned anything about school finance beyond the school finance graduate school course, but three years later, is appointed principal of a school with a multi-million dollar budget. A recipe for disaster! This assistant principal deserves a champion…and that champion is the principal.


I could go on and on…but I won’t. You get the picture. The assistant principal deserves a champion…and that champion is the principal. It matters!


For more discussion on the role of the assistant principal (and the new principal), visit my AP & New Principals Academy YouTube channel, subscribe, and see them all here:

Then join us LIVE every Saturday morning at 10:55 ET on YouTube LIVE @ AP & New Principals Academy.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Reflections on the Past 3 Years of the Virtual AP Leadership Academy

As I write, I am in Cancun, Mexico sitting on my balcony on a much needed 7-day vacation. I went “hard in the paint” traveling and presenting from January – May and I needed to take it down for a week because my work is going to intensify from June – September. The beauty is that I do have two vacations built in to that run. As I sit here on my balcony, I am reflecting on the Virtual AP Leadership Academy a/k/a The Saturday Academy. I must say that I am quite committed to this platform and quite proud of what it has become. It is clear to me that people are benefiting inclusive of aspiring administrators, assistant principals, new principals and even veteran principals.

This Academy was born on the first Saturday in May, 2020 in the midst of the shelter in place reality we were all living at that time in the midst of a global pandemic. For years, I’ve had somewhat of an obsession with the way that the assistant principal was being utilized in general and in urban schools in particular – as full time disciplinarians. I have stated countless times over the years that “the assistant principalship is the most misunderstood and underutilized position is all of education.” My response was to create presentations about how we should be looking at the role of the AP. I then wrote a viral blog post on the topic (of the same title as my quote above) which led to the writing of my best-selling book, The Assistant Principal 50 that was released right when I launched The Saturday Academy.


In that first year. I did 52 consecutive Saturday solo presentations on The Saturday Academy using the content of The Assistant Principal 50. After the first year, I decided that my audience needed to hear other voices in addition to my own. Over the past two years, I have brought on about 105 guests while doing a few solos from time to time. My guests have been amazing. There is no session that I feel bad about. All of them have been of tremendous value. Each of my past guests have their own uniqueness which is the beauty of the messages that each of them have brought to the platform. I literally believe that the Virtual AP Leadership Academy is transforming the way that we look at the assistant principalship. Do know, that preparing for each session takes me a solid week. Many of my guests are authors so I pull from their books which I have to read portions of. My guests who are not authors requires that I learn their skillsets and plan accordingly. Some sessions, I have on 2 to 4 guests at a time….a heck of a lot of planning….all while speaking in 3 to 5 states any given week. Now that’s commitment. Heck many of the sessions are delivered in hotel rooms around the country and world. Yesterday’s session was delivered from here in Cancun on my vacation. #Commitment


I never dreamed that I would be doing this for three years though. The goal was the first Saturday in May, 2020 through the last Saturday of August, 2020….a total of 18 weeks. But here we are, 161 sessions completed with no ending in sight. My future guest list is about 3 years long! Stay tuned! And if you are aware of of any aspiring administrators, assistant principals, new principals or even veteran principals who are not aware of the Saturday Academy, please make them aware. We are LIVE every Saturday morning from 10:55 ET – 12:30ish ET on the following platforms:


Facebook @ Principal Kafele

Facebook @ Virtual AP Leadership Academy

YouTube @ Virtual AP Leadership Academy

Twitter @principalkafele

LinkedIn @ Principal Kafele


Additionally all sessions are archived on the YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe to the channel as well.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

To My White Colleagues: This is Why So Many of Your African American Colleagues Teach

First, let me say that I am going to keep this as short as possible, because for all I would like to say would require a book. My intent however is to give you a perspective of your African American colleagues that you may not even be aware of…but should be. I might add that I will address the shortage of African American teachers is a subsequent post.

African American people are in this country because we are descendants of enslaved Africans beginning with the first Africans captured and brought here to Jamestown, VA in 1619 as indentured servants. From that point in history to the present, the experience of African Americans has been an experience of racism to the nth degree in the form of oppression, domination, exploitation, violence, subjugation, discrimination, prejudice, marginalization, neglect and I could go on and on. I would be remiss however if I didn’t also indicate that triumph, victory and breakthroughs have also been quite normal within the African American experience despite the aforementioned oppression. African American people have always been quite resilient despite the 400+ years of racism that we have endured as a people.


African American people have never sat back and allowed racism to endure without resistance. There is no era in American history where African Americans didn’t fight back against the reality of racism. Fighting back against racism is in our DNA. It is in our blood. It is who we are. We are born with an instinct of resisting oppression. Well, this takes me to your African American colleagues in your schools. Before I go on, let me say that I will not attempt to speak for all  African American teachers but by the same token, I am very comfortable saying that in this essay, I speak for many of them.


Teaching, like any profession is something that individuals pursue because they have a particular interest in engaging in this form of work. So for example, one may love children but at the same time possess a desire to help children to grow academically, socially and emotionally. They therefore pursue education as a potential career path. I became a teacher in 1988 in Brooklyn, NY. I love children and I too possessed a desire to help children to grow academically, socially and emotionally. So I pursued teaching. The difference however was that I am Black man who was a student of African American History before I even thought about becoming a teacher. And because I was a student of history, I looked at my pursuit of teaching through that particular lens. I wanted to teach Black children. I understood the racism they were enduring in real time because I was enduring the same racism throughout my entire life up to that point. I was 28 years of age at the time. I wanted to bring the spirit of all the freedom fighters I had studied over the years into my classroom and to prepare my students for not only individual success but equally important – how to navigate the challenges, obstacles and pressures of racism and oppression as a people. I knew then as I know now at the age of 61 that racism is here to stay. I wanted to therefore position myself to teach Black children how to overcome and to be victorious in their lives while simultaneously teaching them their roles in helping others to do the same.


The key ingredient to meeting these objectives was to teach my students to have an extreme sense of pride in who they are as individuals and collectively as African Americans. Racism has done an immeasurable job of sabotaging this necessary pride and it endures to this day. This pride is restored however in teaching the children WHO THEY ARE historically and culturally. I would dare say that this is the biggest flaw in American education. Black children are in these schools every day and so many feel no connection to the learning because they do not see themselves in those lessons or on  the pages of those books. Learning in these cases lacks cultural relevance; relationships lack cultural responsiveness and far too many educators are culturally incompetent. These are ingredients for disaster for African American children with so many of the children living their lives with no clue as to who that is in their mirrors looking back at them historically.


The point of this essay – as with myself, many of your African American colleagues are in your schools teaching not solely for the joy of teaching but instead out of a sense of duty, responsibility and obligation. From the day I started this work, I characterized it as a personal duty…a personal responsibility…a personal obligation…not as my job, career or profession.  The classroom was my “battleground” in the fight against racism. I walked into that classroom with a “revolutionary spirit” in an effort to “revolutionize” the minds of my students. In many cases, that African American teacher down the hall from you is in that school and in that classroom for the same reason. Chances are that he / she is quite knowledgeable of the history and is therefore using the classroom as the vehicle to fight back against racism and to ultimately defeat it through the children. When African American teachers enter their classrooms, we are “at war.” We are “at war” for the minds of our children. These are serious times in America for African Americans and many do not comprehend the depths of how serious these times are for Black children in our schools. African American teachers are born into this “war”…they get it but when they are in the schools, their war is not limited to the classroom. There’s a whole other “political war” that accompanies their Blackness that they have to navigate daily as well….yet another layer of racism.


So when you see your African American colleague tomorrow morning, do know that your colleague’s world is a very different world from your own. And do know that your colleague is in that classroom for reasons that may be very different from your own. Your African American colleague is a descendant of the institution of enslavement and is therefore a product of a lineage of 400+ years of oppression. This makes the agenda of the teacher very different from your own. When this teacher speaks – listen. When this teacher writes – read it. When this teacher shares perspectives with staff, don’t challenge it – learn from it and grow from it. And to my admin colleagues out there, when this teacher brings perspectives that create cognitive dissonance and discomfort, don’t punish, ostracize, scrutinize or isolate the teacher. Instead, appreciate the teacher for having the willingness and the courage to speak his / her truth to colleagues.


For more of Principal Kafele’s perspectives, visit

Friday, April 15, 2022


As I write, today is April 15, 2022 a day that will be celebrated in Major League baseball stadiums across the United States as Jackie Robinson Day. Today because on April 15, 1947, it was Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Jackie had signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers as the first African American permitted to play in the all-white Major Leagues and therefore April 15 is recognized as the day an African American had broken the baseball's color barrier....75 years ago.

As many know, somewhere around the start of the pandemic, I developed a fascination for the old "Negro Leagues" which I had little interest in prior to the pandemic. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the various Negro Leagues during that year-long "stay-at-home." I became so intrigued by the Negro Leagues that over the past two years, I have purchased over 50 authentic, flannel Negro League jerseys which I proudly wear on my Virtual AP Leadership Academy live stream every Saturday morning.

My fascination for the Negro Leagues is rooted in American History. From 1920 when the first of several Negro Leagues was founded through 1947 and beyond, the Negro Leagues were home to some of the most phenomenal baseball players ever born. Notice, I didn't say Black baseball players....I said baseball players. Jackie Robinson was one of them along with the likes of Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Buck O'Neil, Buck Leonard, Larry Doby, Monte Irvin, Henry Aaron, Willie Mays and Ernie Banks just to name a small few. What these men accomplished is nothing short of amazing. But because they were born Black...let me say that again...BECAUSE THEY WERE BORN BLACK, THEY WERE NOT LEGALLY PERMITTED TO PLAY IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES WITH WHITE BASEBALL PLAYERS....BECAUSE THEY WERE BORN BLACK. So in other words, despite the fact that they had extraordinary skill and ability which would help any team to win a pennant or World Series, it didn't matter. They were born Black in America. The Supreme Court landmark decision - Plessy vs. Ferguson which legalized segregation in America ensured that their opportunity to play in the Majors would be denied.

Of course, as Jackie Robinson (National League) and Larry Doby (American League) entered the Majors in 1947, they had to endure extreme racial hatred both on the field and off. In fact, Jackie was selected because it was felt that he had the temperament to endure it. It is widely accepted that not only was he not the best player in the Negro Leagues, but he wasn't even considered the best on his team, the Kansas City Monarchs. But it was felt that he had the temperament to endure the racism that was going to accompany his arrival to the "Big Leagues." Nevertheless, he went on to become Rookie of the year in 1947 and Major League MVP in 1949. That speaks volumes.

What's interesting for me with all of this is that in schools undergoing "Critical Race Theory hysteria," a teacher could potentially get in "good trouble" if they teach what I have written here or go more in depth toward telling the children the truth about the racism, segregation, etc. in general and in baseball in particular. But at the end of the day, the story must be told in its fullness. Retiring Jackie's number 42 across the league and having all Major League players wear his number today (annually) along with all of the other celebrations is not enough. Even watching the various Jackie Robinson movies is not enough. The children must be educated. Black children, white children, all children must be enlightened to the truth of American history and its ugly racist historical past. There is no healing in hiding truth. There is no healing in perpetuating "feel good" stories and falsehoods. Black children need to learn who that is in their mirrors historically and white children need to learn of the greatness of Black people across genres.

Lastly, one cannot teach what one does not know. How can a teacher do justice to content that the teacher has never been exposed to? How can a teacher teach that which has no mention in a curriculum. The whole system has to change. The future teachers of America...meaning the children in today's classrooms MUST BE INFORMED OF THE TRUTH OF AMERICA. Why? Because a percentage of those children are going to one day become America's next teachers....and quite uninformed and ill-prepared to give the children the sort of content that they require in the context of this post (essay). Again, the system must change.

One last thought. The first of several of the Negro Leagues was founded by a Black man by the name of Rube Foster in Kansas City, MO in 1920. Many of the teams were owned by African American owners. I've often thought to myself, what if so many of the Negro League players didn't migrate over to the Majors and instead there was a commitment to growing and sustaining this league? Just a thought. #bam

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Equity is not a “four-letter word,” the “boogey man,” a political statement, nor the enemy…IT’S JUST GREAT TEACHING!

Sheesh! When did the word, equity become so politically charged? I mean there are people out here who are literally terrified by it. I have had clients to politely ask me to refrain from its usage in my presentations. Recently in a Q & A after a keynote address, I had an audience member ask me in the breakout session how I navigate the usage of the word equity in presentations knowing that there are people sitting in the audience who are critical of the word. In that particular instance, I felt compelled to provide a long response so I asked my breakout session audience if I could spend some time on responding and they said yes. They seemed eager to hear my response so I devoted the entire session to responding to the one question.

As I state in the title, equity is not a “four-letter word,” the “boogey man,” a political statement,” nor the enemy. It doesn’t have a racial connotation, ethnic connotation, cultural connotation, sexual-orientation connotation, socio-economic connotation, etc….no…it has a “great teaching connotation.” In a nutshell, in classroom usage, equity means, “Meeting young people where they are…as they are.” Over the years, I have extended that definition to say that “Equity can never be solely something that you do. Equity MUST be who you are. Equity is therefore a reflection of the educator’s humanity toward the students that he or she serves.” In other words, in this context, equity is a reflection of the educators love and compassion for children….which CANNOT be taught I might add. Either you have it or you don’t. Only the rollout of equity in the classroom can be taught…the “how to” which is “what you do.” The compassion  which is “who you are” is either in you or it is not. If you happen to fall into the category of lack of compassion for your students, introspection is in order because the "what you do" and "who you are" go hand in glove.


So how and when did equity become such a controversial, politically-charged word? In several states across the country, the anti-Critical Race Theory folks who were / are legislating CRT out of schools (its never been in schools by the way…it’s really an absurd fight) wanted to include equity in the same legislation….they wanted to legislate equity out of the schools…unbelievable! I mean, they are treating equity as if it’s a “four-letter word” and imposing consequences if this “four-letter word” is uttered. This is absolutely absurd. Again, equity means, “Meeting young people where they are…as they are.” Of course, the problem lies when there is a focus on historically oppressed communities…Black and Brown students in this regard. So in other words, the racism kicks in. An “equality-mindset” pedagogy in a classroom of diverse learners where there are students of historically oppressed populations present and all students “receive the same thing at the same time at the same rate” is inherently insensitive and oppressive, whether implicit or explicit. One has to know who’s in the classroom. One has to “analyze the audience.” One has to “read the room.” There are children in that classroom who have life experiences that are overwhelmingly challenging historically due to either the skin they were born in or the circumstances upon which they find themselves that require a teacher who understands this reality fully and makes the necessary adjustments toward meeting the academic, social and emotional needs of EACH of the learners. We cannot pretend that racism never happened in this country nor that it doesn’t continue to exist. It did and it still does and its implications for children in classrooms are immeasurable. The “equity-mindset teacher” eagerly embraces this reality and strives to create an “equity-mindset classroom” where each of the learners have equitable opportunities to soar. This is equity. Again, equity is simply “meeting young people where they are…as they are” which translates into GREAT TEACHING.


For further reading, order my newest book, The Equity & Social Justice Education 50: Critical Questions for Improving Opportunities and Outcomes for Black Students (ASCD) wherever education books are sold.

Reflecting on 4 Years of the AP & New Principals Academy

  It’s practically surreal that a project I started on May 2, 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic is still going strong 4 years later and...