“I Choose to Stay is an intensely moving story of loyalty and courage and a deeply personal tribute to the great potential of our inner-city kids, so frequently dismissed and denigrated by American Society.”
Best-selling author of Savage Inequalities and Amazing Grace
Teacher Salome Thomas-EL first learned he had been promoted and transferred to another school in November of 1997. He had been a teacher at Roberts Vaux Middle School in Philadelphia’s inner city since 1989. The promotion came because he had not only helped to improve morale and discipline at his school, but he had taught children to play chess—they went on to win local and national competitions. Besides a $20,000 raise, he would have authority to make changes and greater opportunities to influence a larger number of students.
He turned down the promotion.
“I can’t leave my students,” he said. “What happens if they come in on Monday and I’m not here? They’ll say ‘He left because of the money,’ and I don’t want them to think that way. I’m the only male role model these kids have. I want them to know at least one black male who is committed to staying.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger was so impressed by Thomas-EL during a visit in 1999 that he “came bahhhk” in 2000. His foundation awarded the school a $20,000 grant.
Inspiring and warmly human, Salome Thomas-EL is a true hero. His lecture, “I Choose to Stay: A Teacher’s Fight for America’s Inner City Schools” is moving and full of hope, and proves beyond a doubt that a commitment to teaching in the public schools can result in excellence and success for children most of society has abandoned.
A doctoral student at Nova Southeastern University, Salome Thomas-EL is the author of a bestseller, I Choose to Stay, published by Kensington Publishing.
“This is a powerful story about what an inspirational teacher can do...”
-William H. Gray, III
President, United Negro College Fund
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