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*****= An all-time favorite
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***I Choose To Stay

A Black Teacher Refuses to Desert the Inner City

by Salome Thomas-EL with Cecil Murphey

Reviewed April 21, 2003.
Kensington Publishing, New York, 2003.  304 pages.
A Sonderbooks’ Stand-out of 2003:  #5, Biographical Nonfiction

I Choose to Stay is the inspiring story of a dedicated principal who has turned down promotions in order to stay in the inner city, making a difference in the lives of the students he loves.

Salome Thomas-EL grew up in inner city Philadelphia with seven brothers and sisters and a single mom who supported the whole family.  Thanks to the encouragement and support of caring teachers and his mother, he went on to graduate from college.  He returned to the inner city as a teacher and began making a difference in kids’ lives.

One of the exciting programs Mr. Thomas-EL brought to Vaux Middle School was the revival of the chess team, which hadn’t been active for twenty years.  He got the kids excited about using their minds and made the chess team as admired as the athletic teams.  Within a few years, their team won the national championship.

That wasn’t the only program he started.  Some other innovations included feeding hungry kids breakfast, opening the school on Saturdays, and starting the 100 Book Program, getting kids to read.  Most of all, he changed kids’ lives by giving them genuine love and concern.

This is an inspiring book about something good happening in America’s inner cities and about disadvantaged kids being convinced that they can do things to be proud of.


Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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