Meet Afolabi Runsewe, Minneapolis native and South’s new principal


Khayaal Desai-Hunt

Afolabi Runsewe is South’s new principal. He has done coaching, teaching, and administrative work for the past 22 years, and says he is extremely excited to be at South. Runsewe talked about one of his goals for the future, “That’s something I want to do, utilize our community partners to help support us and also listen to students, make sure we create space to hear from you guys.” Read the article to learn more about some of the new changes Runsewe has implemented, like the after school credit recovery program!

Khayaal Desai-Hunt, Editor-in-Chief

This may be Afolabi Runsewe’s first year as principal at South, but he has long had a passion for making a positive impact in students’ lives. He hadn’t originally planned to go into education, but switched careers in college. “I was a business major, and when I stopped playing college basketball, I started coaching. My first coaching job was 8th grade girls basketball. The way that I connected with that team and how impressionable the kids were, the relationship we built, that really sparked my interest in education,” said Runsewe. He hasn’t looked back since and has been doing coaching, teaching, and administrative work for the past 22 years. 

Runsewe is originally from Minneapolis and attended a variety of Minneapolis Public Schools growing up.“For me it’s an honor and privilege [to be at South]. I felt connected when I interviewed with the interview community. So when I got presented with the opportunity I definitely jumped at it because this is where I want to be.”

Runsewe started as a health science teacher at Mankato East Junior High School, before eventually getting his administrative license at the University of Minnesota. Since then, he has worked as an administrator and teacher in schools across the state, in both rural and urban areas. He said he always wanted to come back and work in Minneapolis if the opportunity arose, “I’m extremely excited to be here, I feel like there is so much untapped potential… Being at South will prepare you for the real world and prepare you to be successful in the real world because you are exposed to so many different groups [of people].”

Although the school year has only recently started, there have been a number of fights already. Notably there was an incident which resulted in a short Tiger Pause being implemented, a practice that was begun in the 2021-22 school year. Runsewe elaborated on it, “When we go on Tiger Pause it’s usually because there is a medical emergency or if there’s an incident and we want to keep kids in the class until things have calmed. If we’re investigating something we want to keep kids in class until we’re able to confirm something.” 

He also talked about how he and the current administration have decided to handle the fights and altercations that have arisen. “We have a restorative practice staff member who is doing mediations. We have reached out to families. Making sure kids are in their class… because when they aren’t that’s when a lot of things happen.” Runsewe added that he has been working to be proactive in limiting these incidents in the future.

There have been a lot of questions about the new after school credit recovery. Runsewe clarified what exactly this program is and why he wanted to start it at South, “One of the biggest things that we have outside of safety and security is making sure students stay on schedule academically.” 

After a student has 3 tardies in the same week, the school will send a robocall to parents, notifying them of their children’s tardies, and suggesting the parent talk to them about staying on track academically. If the student gets another 3 tardies within the following week, then they will be assigned academic credit recovery on a Friday after school. “It’s not detention, it’s not anything punitive. When you come, just make sure you have work to make up. It’s really just assurement you are staying on top of your work. And most kids would choose to go to class on time, which is the goal.”

Saturday school has been a topic of discussion and confusion for students. But Runsewe said that it was only for a very small group of students who were really falling behind and missing a lot of classes. “That’s more of an intervention for a small percentage of students who are falling behind because of truancy, because they are not going to class.”

In the past, Runsewe has worked with students who wanted to see more mental health supports in schools; he believes student leadership is an important part of a school “A lot of what our kids see and suggest is tied to best practice… That’s something I want to do, utilize our community partners to help support us and also listen to students, make sure we create space to hear from you guys.”

Another change that students may have noticed this year is the new definition of Tiger PRIDE. Runsewe spoke about why he decided to change the acronym, “A term like prompt, no disrespect, but prompt can have different meanings for different cultures, so when we have subjective terms it can be hard to define them.” He explained that he wants all students to be able to connect to the terms and have them feel relevant in a unique way to each individual. 

Runsewe elaborated on the new definitions. He said that everyone has a Purpose, and wants students to have a vision towards college and career readiness. “Relationships are key; relationships are what help you navigate through school, through a career, through college. Inclusiveness; we are an inclusive school environment, there are so many different cultures, so many different groups we can learn from within the school. Dependability; developing habits and routines that lead to being successful in college and in a career. Excellence; trying to be our best uplift each other.”

As he continues through his first year at South, Runsewe wants to continue to get to know people and immerse himself in the school culture.