How did George School influence how you lead Wissahickon Charter School?
In a world full of violence, we have to work on solving problems without violence, to work on being more caring and understanding. I want to teach kids how to get out of a situation. I push that really, really hard. I don’t ever want to find out that one of our kids was hurt or killed because they engaged in something they could have gotten themselves out of if we had taught them the skills. Wissahickon has allowed me to impact kids in an urban setting and to do it in a way that’s organic, supporting them in a place that has values that mirror what I had at George School.
What lessons from George School stuck with you?
Fundamental principles at George School that resonated with me: seeing the best in everyone, nonviolence and peaceful ways of problem-solving, reaching decisions through consensus. Most are incredible traits we want to see in each other, and they can be in public schools and in individuals, too.
More about Jamal:
After graduating from Haverford College, Jamal became a founding teacher at the Family Charter School in 1998. He eventually came across the K-8 Wissahickon Charter School in Philadelphia and began teaching there and sending his twin sons there. In 2005 he became the Dean of Students and in 2007 was promoted to being a co-leader of the school as Chief Operating Officer. As COO, Jamal has achieved much: in 2014, he helped open a second campus to serve five hundred additional students, as well as launched a Behavioral Support Team that works one-on-one with kids with significant behavioral issues.