This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at

December 17, 2005

Assault charges against principal are dropped

Sharif El-Mekki was at an antiwar protest when police questioned his son and tensions rose.

By Robert Moran

Inquirer Staff Writer

A Municipal Court judge dismissed charges yesterday against a Philadelphia middle school principal who allegedly assaulted police during an antiwar protest of President Bush's visit to Center City on Monday.

Amid a throng of protesters gathered on Broad Street south of Walnut, police confronted Sharif El-Mekki's 15-year-old son about a container of yellow liquid, which was later determined to be lemonade.

El-Mekki, 34, then reportedly confronted police about what was going on, and an altercation erupted during the midday demonstration while Bush spoke across the street at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue in support of the Iraq war.

Municipal Judge Linda F. Anderson discharged two counts of aggravated assault and related offenses against El-Mekki for lack of evidence.

El-Mekki, of West Philadelphia, is principal of Anna H. Shaw Middle School at 54th Street and Warrington Avenue. He had been temporarily reassigned to the district's central office pending the outcome of the court case, said Paul Vallas, school district chief executive. El-Mekki decided to take some personal days off instead.

Vallas called El-Mekki a "terrific principal" and said his job is not in jeopardy. Vallas expressed sympathy for El-Mekki's actions on Monday.

"I don't know how I would have reacted if my kid were pushed or knocked down," Vallas said.

The incident occurred outside the Italian Bistro restaurant when a plainclothes officer, Samer Musallam, spotted the container and asked a uniformed officer, Mary Friend, to check it out, said Assistant District Attorney Carolyn Naylor.

As tensions heightened, El-Mekki allegedly shoved Friend in the chest and struck Musallam in the face with a forearm, Naylor said.

El-Mekki's brother Mikyeil, 32, also was arrested, but was released without being charged.

El-Mekki's mother, Aisha, 58, called the entire episode "a civics lesson for my grandson," Ali.

She also attended the antiwar demonstration with her family. She said it was hard for her to see what was happening with the police.

"I know my son. He's not a violent person," she said. "He's a calm person. He's very rational."

They were among an estimated 1,000 demonstrators and onlookers assembled outside as Bush spoke to the World Affairs Council.

Contact staff writer Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or

Incubator Seed Grant Proposal - Executive Summary

A. Identify Yourself – Background Information

As the principal and instructional leader of Shaw Middle School my vision includes providing a world-class education for all our 5-8th grade students.

B. Statement of Need

Our students come from economically distressed neighborhoods with special needs that become the initial impetus for them to be ill equipped, and not ready study and achieve when they begin school. We seek to enhance educational opportunity for our low-income and chronically disadvantaged students. 73.1% of our students score in the bottom quartile in mathematics and science. Our students have limited science, mathematics, robotics and "smart technology" experiences, which have prompted our school to focus on goals and objectives to win our students interest and involvement in mathematics, science and engineering.

In the past, science and technology had not been a part of our core curriculum. Funding for projects that demonstrate effective and innovative uses of science and technology in supporting families, schools and communities have been viewed as "luxury funding paths." Much learning and skill acquisition related to technology is happening outside of school. Very few students, including those who have easy access to technology outside of school, and who spend many hours using it, understand the nature of information technology in a conceptually sophisticated way.

Students have what we call "interface fluency." For example, students may be very good at down loading music, graphics, text, etc. from the Internet, but they understand it at the level of "click here and you get a picture," rather than understanding that the picture has to be processed as digital information. There is a need to strengthen our hands-on approach to understanding learning, problem solving exercises, self esteem builders, and an overall thrust of exciting our students about science and technology. We are missing equitable learning environments for our students and not involving families and community organizations in a support system to help our students pursue education and careers related to science, math, engineering and technology.

C. Description of Project/Program

Project Mission: Shaw MS will use Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematical (STEM) principles aligned with the Edison Curriculum, and PA State Standards to positively affect teaching and learning and to generate excitement and inspiration for staff and students by using NASA resources and School District best practices… As Only Shaw Middle School and Its Partners Can!!!

Project Vision: Inspiring the next generation of citizens to use STEM principles to solve local and global problems.

Our project we are requesting funding for will highlight our students successfully completing 6 role-playing simulations via videoconferencing. These simulations have been designed to engage Shaw's students in complex NASA-related scenarios that require students to take on the role of mission specialists. Each simulation begins with three-four weeks of pre-mission activities designed to provide learning in standards-based math, science, and technology. The terminal event for each simulation is a live videoconference with NASA scientists in which students encounter unexpected problems requiring use of the content and skills learned during the pre-mission phase. Our basic needs for implementation will center on the purchasing of videoconferencing equipment and necessary peripherals.

Our primary and secondary targeted audiences are students/staff, and the community respectively. With these missions, our staff will acquire the necessary professional development fro NASA and the State to teach STEM at a rigorous level. The community will benefit tremendously through our monthly STEM nights, focused to include the community and to engage them in the curriculum and projects.

Three of the proposed E-Missions are:

· Storm-E This simulation engages students in learning about weather. Students act as meteorologists and study wind, humidity, air pressure, and temperature to predict weather patterns such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, and nor'easters.

· Aerospace Students are mission specialists preparing for exploration of Mars. They build an airplane for Mars reconnaissance! Students learn flight principles and then learn the math needed to support the mission.

· Human Flight Students are concerned with the effect of space flight on human physiology. They learn about heart rate, blood pressure, nutrition, bone density, and other factors concerned with long-term flight.

Successful implementation of this project will generate tremendous excitement in STEM principles, increase understanding of the scientific method, and enable students and staff to develop beyond "interface fluency" to use and understand technology at a much higher level. Our students will have used a hands-on approach to solve problems by using STEM.

D. Description of Major Outcome and Output Objectives

Major milestones include recruiting for the Steering Committee, the official NASA "Lift Off", hosting informational sessions and STEM evenings for the community, project implementation, and spring "Landing."

Outputs include securing partners, forming a NES Steering Committee, identifying teacher sponsors, securing funds for implementation, etc. For measurable success, our outcomes must include improved test scores in science, increased attendance, heightened awareness of STEM and career opportunities in STEM, an increase in students applying to high schools that specialize in STEM, and improved pedagogy. We also need to secure technology support, possible interns, graduate students, sustained professional development, college & career week (job shadowing) participants, and recruit an outside agency to serve as program evaluators

Our NASA team is comprised of 5 seven and eighth grade teachers and 150 students. Our Strategic Plan calls for expansion to other grades in subsequent years.

E. Resource Demands

Our necessary resources include a NASA commitment, invested teachers, student participation, technology equipment, technological support, committed partners, and roster alignment, and at least $10,000 in funding. Our strategic partners include NASA, parents, SDP, 3E-Institute, GEAR UP, PSU, Edison, Inc., and parents. The major strategy will include forming a NES Steering Committee to collectively empower partners to assist us in implementing this project. We are also researching to determine who in our local area receives funding from NASA who could also serve as potential partners.

F. Capacity to Succeed

Our strengths include the strategic plan, our partners and the following team members. They bring a wealth of knowledge and their careers attest to their abilities to be goal oriented.

The rationale for the team composition in relation to the school and staff improvement efforts is to provide the expertise necessary to cultivate and expand members' roles in creating a scientific and technological environment, specifically, in the areas of aerospace engineering, robotics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology.

Mr. El-Mekki is a visionary instructional leader that ensures the program remains viable and relative and the NASA goals remain in sight, providing fidelity to the team. He has traveled to Iran to study and establish a partnership with a middle school to do a comparative analysis on how higher science and mathematics concepts are taught at the middle school level in Iran as opposed to the United States. Mr. El Mekki will identify and combat trends in the school that interfere with our stated objectives and chart the course for what must be done to enable students to achieve full participation in all areas of STEM.

Mr. Green will take the information and expand it across the curriculum as the technology teacher in the science academy. Mr. Green will be able to integrate all areas of the curriculum to meet the goals in the school improvement plan and NASA Explorer School program. With expert support he will lead the staff in the usage of technology, disseminating technological information, district grading upgrades, and assist in developing smart technology projects. Mr. Green serves on various school related committees thereby making contributions at all levels throughout the school.

Ensuring the success of every student Ms. Hudson was selected because she brings a consistent hands-on approach to our students whom are visual and tactile learners. She is one of district's mandated on-site Science Coordinator. Her hands on methodology encourage teachers to utilize a variety of tools to enhance instruction, helping them to understand that there is not a single factor that guarantees to draw students in.

She currently leads an activity integrating biotechnology, agriculture and environmental science which is currently a major part of our Integrated Pest Management project under the state science standards

Mr. Kohler, Special Education Teacher will serve as a facilitator to foster a greater knowledge of science and space exploration for staff and students. He encourages students to apply process knowledge to make and interpret observations, identify and use the elements of scientific inquiry to solve problems. He leads staff development in providing staff instructional strategies to adapt lessons and accommodations when necessary.

Ms. Morris, Robotics Education Specialist will serve as an invaluable resource person for the team as a supervisor and liaison between the district's administration and the school. She brings to our team research experience in the areas of robotics, engineering and technology. Ms. Morris motivates students to study foundational curricular topics such as electrical circuits; mechanics, optics, geometry, probability, and statistics, robotics offers an entry point to STEM learning appropriate. The improvement efforts and objective to put students in productive control of smart technology, rather than having them feel that they are at the mercy of it, or are locked out of the environments that use it. She aims to help students develop a more sophisticated epistemology related to intelligent interactive technology and a significant degree of fluency in the scientific inquiry and design processes involved in creating and understanding it. .

G. Fit with School Objectives

There is no conflict between the project's mission and that of Shaw MS. The organizational mission of Shaw MS is to prepare our students academically, socially, morally, to compete in the global community through rigorous application and the development of reading, writing, and problem solving based on the implementation of our Core Values and the Edison Curriculum.

Our employers (PA Dept. of Education/Edison/SDP) are assisting us by participating on the NES Steering Comm., identifying potential resources, and they will assist us in grant writing, and aligning the NASA resources with State/local standards.

Budget for Incubator Seed Grant

Videoconferencing equipment $4,500

Gateway Desktop $1,200

LCD Projector $1,900

IN-Kind Services $4,000

Total $11,600

Requested amount from 3E Institute $4,500

This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at