Speaking to the World
Boston | Chicago | San Diego | Atlanta
“Every child needs someone to be crazy about them.” These are the words of Salome Thomas-EL, award-winning teacher, principal, and nationally recognized educator. They shape his lifelong commitment to answering the question, “How do we ensure that every child achieves their greatest potential?” Read More >
This question lies at the heart of the national dialogue on education policy, the day in and day out work of school personnel, and the hopes of every parent. Central to this challenge is how we succeed with children who are facing the most serious barriers to success: poverty, violence, neglect, and low expectations.
For over 20 years, Principal EL has taken on this challenge with the absolute belief that every child can and will learn as long as adults in their world care enough to not give up. Starting as a teacher and chess coach at Vaux Middle School and through his years as principal at several traditional public and charter schools, Thomas-EL has transformed the attitudes and strategies of school staff, parents, and members of the community to help hundreds of troubled children not only graduate from high school but go on to earn higher degrees from major colleges and universities. He brings to the process a powerful combination of passion, caring, and leadership to craft a refreshing, commonsense roadmap to help kids achieve their dreams, no matter the odds.
Thomas-EL has been a teacher and principal in Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware, since 1987. He is currently the Head of School at Thomas Edison Charter School in Wilmington. Principal EL received national acclaim as a teacher and chess coach at Vaux Middle School, where his students have gone on to win world recognition as Eight-Time National Chess Champions. He was a regular contributor on the first season of The Dr. Oz Show and is the author of the best-selling books, I Choose to Stay, about his Vaux Middle School experience, and The Immortality of Influence (foreword by Will Smith), which stresses the importance of leadership, mentoring, parenting, and service to others. The Walt Disney Company has optioned the movie rights to I Choose to Stay.
Thomas-EL speaks to groups across the country and frequently appears on C-SPAN, CNN, and NPR. He has studied in London and Cambridge, England, and is currently a doctoral candidate. He has received the Marcus A. Foster Award as the outstanding School District Administrator in Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania’s distinguished Martin Luther King Award. Principal EL recently appeared on The Oprah Radio Network and was recognized by Reader’s Digest as an “Inspiring American Icon.” Read Less ^
Dr. Oz on Obesity
I Choose to Stay
Dieting Tips on the Dr. Oz Show
How Can We Motivate Our Students?
There Are No Passengers; We're All Crew
Every Child Deserves Someone to be Crazy About Them
United by Education
Thomas-EL uses practical, real-world examples to present the universal methods he has so successfully used to help his students achieve their dreams. He famously began a chess club-the Mighty Bishops - to teach his students at an early age to think critically and to resolve conflict with their minds instead of their fists. Not only did his students win national championships and become local heroes among their peers, they also scored high on the SAT, which got them into colleges and universities. Read More >
Thomas-EL found himself faced with kids who weighed more than he did, so he started a simple summer program where the students walked to museums and other cultural events around the city; those who exercised felt better about themselves and in turn became better students. Citing the importance of exposing his students to the world outside of their own sometimes troubled community, he tells of taking 15 of his African American kids to rural Vermont, where they interacted with white children their age and discovered how much they had in common. All of these students were later accepted to magnet high schools.
Based on his book, The Immortality of Influence, this keynote speech is a refreshing, commonsense roadmap to helping kids achieve their dreams, not only for parents and educators but for everyone who knows that just one person really can make a difference. Read Less ^
Thomas-EL is the author of I Choose to Stay: A Black Teacher Refuses to Desert the Inner City - an intensely moving story of loyalty and courage and a deeply personal tribute to the great potential of inner-city kids. Read More >
In 1997, as a teacher at Roberts Vaux Middle School in Philadelphia's inner city, he was offered a promotion, not only because he had helped to improve scholastics, morale, and discipline at his school, but because he had taught children to play chess—and win local and national competitions . He turned down the promotion. He was committed to stay and be the role model those children needed. Armed with a chess board and a profound belief in their potential, Thomas-EL's faith and commitment has motivated hundreds of children in Philadelphia to attend magnet high schools and major colleges and universities. His story proves that teaching in the public schools can result in excellence and success for children most of society has abandoned. Reflecting on how it feels to see a young person he has mentored walk down the aisle toward a real future instead of to an early grave, Thomas-EL has said: "I've been to too many funerals; I need to go to more graduations." Read Less ^
“Principal EL’s keynote was amazing, passionate and genuine! He set the standard high for our future speakers. Many of our attendees stated it was the best keynote they ever heard!”
“I don’t like keynotes, as I always feel like the speaker is trying to sell me something. I just watched the most amazing keynote with Principal EL! Never have I felt more honored to be a teacher. The only thing he sold me on is how important we are! Thank you sir!”
"Wonderful! Fantastic! Superb! Mesmerizing! Applicable! Appropriate! Personalized message! When will he be back? These are just a few of the many comments I have personally received about Principal El. He arrived in time to listen to the program prior to his speaking. He took what he heard from the presentations and intertwined into his speech. I have been told I could not have found a better speaker for Convocation 2015 and they want him back for the Winter 2016 Convocation in January! We had some time after the program and I took him to visit the elementary schools. Oh my - the staff could not have been any happier than they were on the last day of school. Allendale County Schools was truly blessed by Principal El. We look forward to him returning to our humble district. Thank you for your assistance."
"It was a real delight to have Salome Thomas-EL as our Opening Speaker – particularly in that role, early on in the conference, [as] he [got] people energized and excited about the meeting. He made his story relevant to everyone in the room and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. I will be sure to recommend him as a speaker to my fellow regional vice presidents."
"The ideas and experiences Principal EL shared will serve to enhance the quality of local public education in districts throughout Connecticut. You should be pleased to know that the audience in your keynote address enjoyed your presentation very much. Our members loved you! Thanks so much."
"Salome was OUTSTANDING!!! Loved him. One of the best speakers we have ever had."
"Salome was a big hit at the Regional Forum and well received by the conference attendees. He was a pleasure to work with and all of our staff enjoyed their interactions with him."
"I am emailing you to thank you for your fantastic keynote address at the NASP conference this past week in Chicago. I am one of the 6,000 who did not get to meet you but I wanted to tell you how moving I thought your speech was.
You reminded me that there are so many kids, communities, schools and families who need, want, and appreciate people that choose to go into education. I want to go work in the New York City school system when I complete my degree here. I hope to change even just one school for even just one child in the same way that you have. Thank you for your time this past Wednesday."
"Throughout the NASP convention people came up to me and raved about the opening general session and your keynote presentation. You hit it out of the park and set a warm and reinforcing tone for the rest of the week. THANK YOU.
Thanks, too, for taking the time with us on Tuesday to learn more about NASP and school psychologists and for making yourself so open to meeting the many attendees who wanted to connect with you. I’m glad it was as fulfilling for you as it was a treat for us."
"Salome did a great job for us. His message was spot on and was well received. Anecdotally I know he was appreciated. Thanks much!!"
"Salome Thomas-EL was the keynote speaker at ASCD’s Conference on Educational Leadership. It was exciting to see over 1500 educators from around the world, immediately rise to their feet to give him a resounding standing ovation at the conclusion of his keynote. I continue to hear comments from my staff as well as conference attendees that his message touched them personally and was by far one of the best they have ever heard!"
"Principal EL has a message that every educator needs to hear! His memorable quotes and motivational stories will have the audience cheering and saying 'amen!' Principal EL is a one of kind speaker with a message that will change the way we think about our students."
"When it comes to educational presenters Salome is the best of the best. He is engaging, funny and causes everyone to self-reflect on their own practices. Principal EL provides you with specific strategies you can immediately implement into your classrooms and schools. He is a must see for everyone!"
"Salome Thomas-EL's message to our community was truly inspirational. The audience felt both appreciated for the work they had accomplished and energized to answer the call to action to make sure that all of our children have the opportunity to be successful. This was, without exception, the best presentation I have seen in my 24-year career."
"Principal EL’s speeches are amazing and we love having him be a part of the work that Franklin Covey is doing around the world. He has a unique way of motivating teachers and students alike that is unparalleled. I wish we all could speak like him."
Passionate Leadership: Creating a Culture of Success in Every School
Building A Winning Team: The Power of a Magnetic Reputation and The Need to Recruit Top Talent in Every School
The Immortality of Influence: We Can Build the Best Minds of the Next Generation
I Choose To Stay: A Black Teacher Refuses to Desert the Inner City
Candid and Compassionate Feedback: Transforming Everyday Practice in Schools
Email Your List
You’ve reached your maximum number of speakers for this list.
Email Your List