Wanna see Mr. Mesfun’s special handshake?


In case you missed it, here is a video featuring students’ reactions to Montera’s new principal, Russom Mesfun. It was posted over the break, along with a story about changes at the middle school.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • John

    If you raise the crotch on a boy’s pants could it help raise his test scores? It might! And that hand shake! I LOVE IT! What I find most encouraging about this new principal is his emphasis on school discipline.

    During the 1980’s I taught in a north Oakland school with terrible discipline problems. During the 1990’s I worked at a different school and returned to my previous school in 2001. It was a different place with solid discipline policies consistently enforced.

    The school was 85% Afro American and the principal was 100% Chinese-American. The Afro American school community wanted an Afro American principal and repeatedly made their wishes known to the down town administration. Consequently, the Chinese principal was demoted and replaced by an Afro American principal who for whatever reasons failed to maintain the gains of her predecessor.

    It has been my general observation that Afro American principals are better accepted at schools with a large and/or growing Afro American student enrollment. A competent Afro American principal is an excellent choice for Montera with its growing Afro American enrollment. If there are disparities in suspension rates between African-American students and their white counterparts an African-American principal will be less subject to criticism than would be a white counterpart.

    Although Montera Middle School is a part of the OUSD it has a history among hill area residents as being considered more suburban than inner-city. Such is no longer the case and a new kind of leadership, with inner-city school management style, is required for a changing school environment. The kind of changes needed, and best accepted by African-Americans, requires a competent Afro-American school administrator with the ethnic and political capital to do something about those saggy pants, the cursing in the hallways, and a myriad of other issues confronted in a typical inner-city school environment.

    Because an increasing number of the kids attending Montera come from single parent families a good father figure and male Afro-American male role model is needed, and seemingly provided by this “lanky, 6-foot-3 principal playing jump rope with students at lunch.”

    From what I’ve read and seen I tend to agree with Montera student Samantha Mladjoy, 11, who claims, “He’s definitely the best principal,” and she’s “glad they picked him.”

    We should all be glad an appropriate leadership choice has now been made for this inner-city Oakland hills school.

  • detank

    I worked with Mr. Mesfun when he was an assistant Principle at Skyline HS.

    I always found him to be a effective administrator and a good person.