After working in the field of business for six years, Abdul-Mutakabbir decided that it was time to say goodbye to the hefty paychecks and follow his dream of teaching. Now he is principal of the newly opened Maspeth High School.
Abdul-Mutakabbir said the change in careers was a direct result of September 11. He said he felt outraged by the attacks, and decided it was time for him to do something positive in the community. He made the phone call and signed up for the New York Teaching Fellows.
“I come from a family of service,” he said, “and I always wanted to serve as well.”
Once he was enrolled in the program, fellows were told to create a plan to establish a new school. From there, Abdul-Mutakabbir said that he “ran with it,” and now finds himself in the leadership seat of the new school.
Abdul-Mutakabbir said that the school, which has been open less than a year, is modeled after his high school in Boston, where there was a mix of traditional curriculum and extracurricular activities.
“I wanted to create a school that I would feel comfortable sending my own kids to,” he said.
Overall, Abdul-Mutakabbir is pushing his school to be engrained in the community and not “operate in a bubble.” He said it was his understanding that he would have likely been assigned to a failing school or replace a long-standing principal, but that creating his own high school and heading it was something he could have never dreamed of.
“I like the Wall Street stuff,” he admitted. “But I think the real battlefield for me is in the school. This is what it’s all about.”