National education figure to talk about dynamic leadership in education

Contact: Cheryl Roland
Photo of Baruti Kafele.


KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Turnaround School Leaders Grant, a partnership between Western Michigan University and the Battle Creek Public Schools, is bringing to Kalamazoo a nationally known educator who is a bestselling author and an advocate for the role of school leaders in making reform initiatives successful.

Baruti Kafele, who has won a Milken National Educator award—nicknamed the Oscar of teaching—is the keynote speaker for the free public presentation at the Fetzer Center on the WMU campus from 8:30 to 10:15 a.m. Friday, June 17. Organizers have opened admission to anyone interested in effective teaching and leadership in schools.

In his talk, Kafele is expected to discuss the complex role of the principal as the most critical figure in the school building. He also is expected to offer school leaders strategies for developing a school climate and culture that are conducive to high academic performance.

Baruti Kafele

Kafele excelled as an urban public school educator in New Jersey for more than twenty years. As an elementary school teacher in East Orange, New Jersey, 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 in East Orange, Plainfield and Newark, he led the transformation of four different schools, including Newark Technical High School, which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to recognition by U.S. News & World Report as one of America's best high schools.

He left his last principal position five years ago. Today, as a motivational speaker and writer, he is on personal mission to motivate, educate and empower educators, parents and children toward the goal of "attitude transformation." His core message can be found in his bestselling book, "The Principal 50: Critical Leadership Questions for Inspiring Schoolwide Excellence."

For more information about the event, contact Dr. Elizabeth Whitten, professor of special education and administration, at She leads the Turnaround School Leaders Grant project at WMU.

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