• principalkafele@gmail.com
  • (201) 424-0201

Principal Kafele's Story

Principal Kafele Headshot (2018-full)

Principal Baruti Kafele, a highly regarded urban educator in New Jersey for more than twenty years, has distinguished himself as a master teacher and a transformational school leader. As an elementary school teacher in East Orange, NJ, he was named East Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools Teacher of the Year, was a finalist for New Jersey State Teacher of the Year, and was a recipient of the New Jersey Education Association Award of Excellence.As a middle and high school principal, Principal Kafele led the turnaround of four New Jersey urban schools, including “The Mighty” Newark Tech, which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to national recognition, and which was recognized three times by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s best high schools.

One of the most sought-after school leadership experts and education speakers in America, Principal Kafele is impacting America’s schools! Since leaving his principalship in 2011, he has delivered/conducted more than 1000 conference and program keynotes, professional development workshops, parenting seminars, and student assemblies. An expert in the area of “attitude transformation,” Principal Kafele is the leading authority for providing effective classroom and school leadership strategies toward closing what he coined, the “Attitude Gap.”

A prolific writer, Principal Kafele has written extensively on professional development strategies for creating a positive school climate and culture, transforming the attitudes of at-risk students, motivating Black males to excel in the classroom, and school leadership practices for inspiring schoolwide excellence. In addition to writing several professional articles for popular education journals, he has authored 10 books, including his five ASCD best sellers—Is My School a Better School BECAUSE I Lead It?, The Principal 50, The Teacher 50, Closing the Attitude Gap, and Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School & in Life. His newest book—The ASPIRING Principal 50: Critical Questions for New and Future School Leaders—released in May 2019.

Principal Kafele earned his B.S. in Management Science/Marketing from Kean University and his M.A. in Educational Administration from New Jersey City University. He is the recipient of more than 100 educational, professional, and community awards, including the prestigious Milken National Educator Award and the National Alliance of Black School Educators Hall of Fame Award. He was inducted into the East Orange, New Jersey Hall of Fame, and the City of Dickinson, Texas proclaimed February 8, 1998 Baruti Kafele Day. He and his wife Kimberley are the parents of three children—Baruti, Jabari, and Kibriya.

Past Presentations

US Keynotes and Workshops

Principal Kafele has delivered / conducted over 1000 conference and program keynotes, featured presentations, professional development workshops, parenting seminars and student assemblies since leaving his principalship in 2011 in the following 44 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories over the past 8 years:

District of Columbia
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
Rhode Island
South Carolina
West Virginia
U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John)

National Education Conferences

Principal Kafele has delivered / conducted over 1000 national and international conference and program keynotes, featured presentations, professional development workshops, parenting seminars and student assemblies since leaving his principalship in 2011. Following is a list of national conferences where he has either been a keynoter, featured presenter or session presenter over the past 8 years:

American Association of School Personnel Administrators
ASCD Annual Conference
ASCD Conference on Educational Leadership
ASCD Conference on Teaching Excellence
ASCD Fall Conference
ASCD Summer Conference
ASCD Summer Institute
ASCD Pre-Conference Institute
Association for Middle Level Educators (AMLE)
At-Risk Youth National Forum
Black Educators Rock Conference
Catapult Learning Leadership Institute
College Board National Office for School Counselor Advocacy
Dev. Resources / Nat. Symposium on School Discipline Practices
Gurian Institute (Summer Institute)
Innovative Schools Summit
Learning Forward Annual Conference
Learning Forward Summer Conference
National Alliance of Black School Educators
National Association for Alternative Certification
National Association for Multicultural Education
National Association for the Education of Young Children
National Association of Elementary School Principals
National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Black Child Development Institute
National Dropout Prevention Network
National Education Association
National Middle School Association
National Principals Conference (NAESP/NASSP)
National At-Risk Youth Conference
National Title I Association
New Teacher Center Symposium
Principals Partnership Summer Leadership Institute
School Climate & Culture Forum
SDE Conference for Extraordinary Educators
SDE Differentiated Instruction Intensive Institute
SDE National Conference on Differentiated Instruction
SDE National Conference on Reading, Writing, Math & More
SDE Pre-Conference Administrators Summit
SREB High Schools That Work Conference
Successful Innovations National Family Engagement Conference

International Keynotes and Workshops

Principal Kafele has delivered / conducted over 1000 national and international conference and program keynotes, featured presentations, professional development workshops, parenting seminars and student assemblies since leaving his principalship in 2011. Following is a list of his international keynotes, featured presentations and professional development workshops over the past 8 years:

Dare to be Great Seminar, Quota International of Aruba, Palm Beach, Aruba
Bermuda Union of Teachers Annual Conf., Devonshire, Bermuda
DBEN Parent / Community Forum, Ajax, ON, Canada
David Suzuki Secondary School, Brampton, ON, Canada
Fresh Start Suspension Program, Brampton, ON, Canada
Peel Alternative School, Brampton, ON, Canada
DBEN School Leadership Forum, Whitby, ON, Canada
St. Marguerite d’Youville Secondary Sch., Brampton, ON, Canada
Avon Maitland District School Board (principals), Niagara on the Lake, ON, Canada
Bendale Business & Technical Inst., Scarborough, ON, Canada
Northwest School Division, Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada
Caribbean & International Social Work Educators Conf., Curacao
Curacao ASCD (Educators Forum), Curacao
Curacao Principals and Central Office Administrators, Curacao
University of the Netherlands Antilles, Opening Ceremony, Curacao
Community Forum, St. Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean
ECE Education Symposium, St. Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean
St. Maarten ASCD Conference, St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles
Love of Kids Foundation, St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles
Trinidad and Tobago ASCD Forum (admin., teachers, parents & students), Trincity, Trinidad


  • East Orange Lifetime Citizen Award
  • East Orange (NJ) Hall of Fame
  • National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc. Alpha Chapter
  • SPAN Parent Advocacy Network Champion of Education Equity Award
  • Omega Psi Phi (Louisville) Men of Quality Award
  • OMG Photography Educator of the Year Award
  • Phi Beta Sigma Kappa Beta Sigma Chapter Excellence in Education Award
  • The Black Man Can Institute Extraordinary Black Man Award
  • NAACP of Warren/Sussex County (NJ) Educator of Excellence Award
  • Denver Black Community Service Award
  • Kean University Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Ujima Award for Professional Development
  • New Brunswick Area NAACP Education Advocacy Award
  • Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition
  • National Alliance of Black School Educators Hall of Fame Award
  • Community Awards Banquet (Newark) Educator of the Year
  • NYC City Council Citation for Outstanding Service
  • Congressman Donald M. Payne, Sr. Torchbearer for Education Award
  • Staten Island NAACP William A. Morris Award
  • NJ Dept. of State Martin Luther King Proclamation
  • E. Alma Flagg School Community Service Award
  • New Jersey Education Association Award for Excellence
  • Orange HS MLK Community Service Award
  • Nu Beta Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
  • Babyland Family Services Education Award
  • Historical Society of East Orange Award
  • Catalyst for Change Award
  • Proclamation, Office of the Mayor, Wilmington, DE
  • Young Men Employment Network Educator of the Year Award
  • Resolution, Essex County (NJ) Board of Chosen Freeholders
  • Resolution, City of East Orange, NJ
  • Green's School of Martial Arts Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Citation, Office of the Mayor, Jersey City, NJ
  • Great Commission Ministry Empowerment Seminar Awardr
  • Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award
  • Clark School People of Influence Award
  • Person of the Month (December), Samuel Huntington School
  • Nat. Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc., Epsilon Chi Chapter
  • Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Phi Omega Chapter Heritage Award
  • Af. Am. Heritage Parade Comm. Selfless Service Award
  • Essex County Civic Club Educational Service Award
  • All Stars Project of NJ Phat Friend Award
  • Jersey City Branch NAACP Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Award
  • Restoring the Legacy Award, God's Promise CDC
  • SMART PROGRAM, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School
  • SHU Student Support Services Black History Program
  • Citation, Office of the Borough President, Brooklyn, NY
  • Louisville Urban League Education Summit
  • Links for Life Award
  • Marcus Garvey Achievement Award for Community Service
  • Kids and Cadets Award, Rahway High School
  • Village Award, African American Positive Male Role Model
  • Community Service Award, United Clergy of the Oranges
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, United Methodist Church
  • Community Strengthening Leadership Award, NCNB
  • Teach One/Reach One Award, Academy II
  • Who's Who Among America's Teachers
  • Phi Delta Kappa, Inc., Delta Pi Chapter Citation Award
  • Minority Achiever of the Year Award, E. Orange YMCA
  • Proclamation, City of East Orange, NJ
  • Who's Who Among America's Teachers (twice)
  • Who's Who Among America's Teachers
  • Eagle Flight Squadron Outstanding Educator Award
  • Who's Who Among America's Teachers
  • Proclamation, City of Dickinson, TX (Baruti K. Kafele Day)
  • Award of Distinction, Mayor of Jersey City, NJ
  • Nominated NJ Teacher of the Year for the Humanities
  • Proclamation, Governor of New Jersey
  • NJEA Award, Teacher of the Year
  • EOEA Pride in Public in Education Award
  • Teacher of the Year, Essex County and E. Orange Schools
  • Exemplary Program Award for Parental Involvement
  • Man of Integrity Award, Evangelical Gospel Tabernacle
  • Outstanding Contribution to Black Youth, Roslyn, NY
  • Best New Writer Award, UB/US Communications Systems
  • Who's Who Amongst Students in Am. Univ. and Colleges
  • Academic Excellence Award, Kean College BSU
  • Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society
  • Lambda Alpha Sigma Liberal Arts and Sciences Honor Society