“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 >
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I Choose to Stay
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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 ^
"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!!"