A School on the Move: Newark’s Malcolm X Shabazz High School

By Abner Oakes

ISA's Director of Outreach


We asked Naseed Gifted, the principal of ISA partner school Malcolm X Shabazz High School, to tell us a little about his school, the students there, and its future.

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Tell us about your school and the young people there. What might a visitor to your school notice first and foremost?

Malcolm X Shabazz High School (MXS) is a comprehensive high school located in the great city of Newark, New Jersey. The mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.

Our scholars are enrolled in exciting programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills; that inspire creativity; and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

Our mission is to provide each scholar with a rigorous curriculum to ensure college and career readiness, cultivate leadership, and uphold a commitment to community.

We believe education does not start or end in the classroom. True learning occurs at all times—when you succeed, when you fail, when you make mistakes, and when you accomplish your goals. We believe that, as a school, we are teaching all the time. Each hallway interaction, home visit, or family meeting communicates who we are, what we value, and why we are here.

A visitor arriving at the school will most likely first notice the great architecture and the history of the building itself. One might also notice the beautiful landscape and historical site. The history of the school includes both the time when the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke and the school’s visit by Malcolm X Shabazz’s daughter.

What would you say are the greatest strengths of Shabazz—and what have been your greatest challenges?

MXS boasts one of the most comprehensive extracurricular programs in the city. Cultivating a well-rounded scholar includes offering activities that will allow them to stay engaged in learning while practically applying the skills they have developed.

One of our greatest challenges is the small number of staff members that the school has. Having such a small number causes some limitations during common planning and during collaborative planning with discussions, such as crosstalk.

We’re also working diligently on improving the school culture so that it’s centered around student work and what exemplary work looks like.

How has ISA helped you and your teachers? What’s been the most valuable part of your work with ISA?

The Institute for Student Achievement (ISA) has been instrumental in assisting our students as we prepare for success in college and in their careers. The ISA team has served as leadership coaches, and they have helped create an environment where teachers deliver quality instruction and assign writing across the disciplines. ISA has been instrumental in assisting staff with creating assessments that are aligned with state standards.

Where do you imagine Shabazz going in the next five years? What does the future hold for your school and its students?

The future is bright for MXS and the scholars that attend. In the next five years, MXS will have one of the top technology programs in the city, with a strong liaison between the urban community and the STEM community.