I Choose to Stay: A Black Teacher Refuses to Desert the Inner City by Salome Thomas-EL, Cecil Murphey |, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
I Choose to Stay: A Black Teacher Refuses to Desert the Inner City

I Choose to Stay: A Black Teacher Refuses to Desert the Inner City

by Salome Thomas-EL, Cecil Murphey
     
 

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The challenges of working in an urban school are not for every teacher. Some get burnt out fast. Some lose sight of why they started teaching in the first place. Some find their calling in other neighborhoods...with other kids. But not Salome Thomas-El. A Teacher at Roberts Vaux Middle School in Philadelphia's inner city, he chose to stay. Gripping, poignant, and

Overview

The challenges of working in an urban school are not for every teacher. Some get burnt out fast. Some lose sight of why they started teaching in the first place. Some find their calling in other neighborhoods...with other kids. But not Salome Thomas-El. A Teacher at Roberts Vaux Middle School in Philadelphia's inner city, he chose to stay. Gripping, poignant, and homest, this is his blistering real-life tale of mentoring and making a difference—and how the reformation of America's educational system can start with just one school.

Praise for I Choose To Stay

"An intensely moving story of loyalty and courage and a deeply pewrsonal tribute to the great potential of our inner-city kids, so frequently dismissed and denigrated by American society. The redemptive power of a teacher's love shines through these pages with prophetic grace. I am grateful to the author for the lesson of essential decency he teaches us" —Jonathan Kozol

"This book is about courage. It is a story about determination, about compassion, love and the ultimate fight. This is the fight against the odds, against the 'system' and years of cultural, social and economic factors that would have allowed this group of inner-city kids to become nothing more than a set of statistics. But Salome Thomas-El would not let that happen. He would not give up. He saw the potential in them and he fought for them. he used a board game as a weapon in this figth." —From the forward by Arnold Schwarzenegger

"A powerful story about what an inspirational teacher can do to open new horizons for economically disadvantaged young people" —William H. Gray, III, President, United Negro College Fund

"This book shows how one dedicated educator who believes in th potential of all our kids can make a huge difference and how, under teh proper circumstances, urban education can work." —Edward G. Rendell, former mayor of Philadelphia, Chairman of the Democratic National Convention

"An eloquent example of how commitment and innovation can better the lives of inner-city children." —Kirkus Reviews

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Teaching is a calling, and Thomas-EL has enthusiastically answered the call. In his memoir, the educator, currently the principal of a Philadelphia elementary school, recounts the events that led him to a career in education. The author writes of experiences that would daunt many. Thomas-EL, the seventh of eight children, displayed intellectual promise early and was transferred to one of Philly's prominent magnet schools. He recounts how insecurity plagued him as he went from being at the top of his class in his old school to joining students who showed just as much intellectual prowess as he did. On top of dealing with a lack of self-confidence at this new school, Thomas-EL also felt the sting of racism for the first time. In energetic prose, he remembers the inspiration he found in teachers who connected him with internship opportunities and consistently encouraged him. Now in that very role today, Thomas-EL has instituted some innovative programming at his school, garnering such attention from administrators that he's received numerous offers for leadership positions in his own and other districts. Although the accompanying salaries have been attractive, Thomas-EL declares, "I choose to stay." Agent, Deidre Knight. (Mar.) Forecast: Educators who enjoyed Judge Greg Mathis's Inner City Miracle (Ballantine, 2002) and Samson Davis, George Jenkins and Rameck Hunt's The Pact (Riverhead, 2002) will be drawn to this warm account of helping economically disadvantaged kids. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Early in his teaching career, Thomas-El turned down an opportunity many teachers would not have refused. Although offered a promotion to assistant principal at another school in the district, he chose not to move from Robert Vaux Middle School, the Philadelphia low income school where he was teaching. He says he made this choice because he believed the programs that he was building at Vaux had a positive influence on the children involved. This book serves as a reflective case study in support of conclusions drawn by other educators (e.g., Rhona S. Weinstein's Reaching Higher: The Power of Expectations in Schooling) about the effects of a supportive teacher. Inspired by his belief that children cannot fail if their teachers consistently demonstrate the expectation that they will succeed, Thomas-El resurrected the school's chess team to its former glory. Trained as a mathematics teacher, he taught chess strategies in relationship to algebraic concepts. He also required that chess team members maintain good grades in all their classes. Their tournament successes at the national level made the team members local heroes among their peers. Thomas-El tells his story, from childhood through school administrator, focusing on the mentoring needs of students and how this can be achieved programmatically by dedicated teachers. Although the book is written at a middle school reading level-this, in fact, is its key flaw-its underlying message is so compelling that it is still recommended as inspirational reading for both veteran and aspiring teachers, as well as the general interest audience.-Jean Caspers, Northup Lib., Linfield Coll., McMinnville, OR Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Now principal of a Philadelphia school, Thomas-EL recounts his experiences teaching and organizing a chess program that turned potential dropouts into winners. A product of Philadelphia’s inner city, raised by a mother who worked as often as she could but frequently was on welfare, the bright and hardworking boy was encouraged to excel by both Mom and his teachers, who helped him gain admittance to a magnet school and then a small, largely white college. Exposed to racism from students and professors, Thomas-EL was tempted to quit, but he persevered, graduated, and decided to pursue a career in television or the law. He had no intention of teaching, even though one of his professors had told him that he could help his community more as a teacher than as a lawyer. He began working as an intern for a sports channel, but was increasingly drawn to teaching; since most of his TV work was at night, he began substituting in schools. Loving the work and the kids, he decided to earn certification and a master’s degree so he could get a permanent position in the Philadelphia public school system. He describes how he did this, paying tribute to the mentors who encouraged him. Meanwhile, his students had to overcome numerous problems to stay in school; many had parents on drugs and didn’t get enough to eat in homes plagued by violence. Thomas-EL’s first success was an alternative learning program called Second Chance designed for disruptive students; it became so popular that students deliberately misbehaved so they could attend. Determined that the kids needed to expand their minds—"strive for an MBA, instead of the NBA"—he began a successful chess program; students won nationalcompetitions, as well as the respect and admiration of their peers. An eloquent example of how commitment and innovation can better the lives of inner-city children. Agent: Deidre Knight

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780758201874
Publisher:
Kensington
Publication date:
01/01/2004
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
1,103,740
Product dimensions:
6.01(w) x 8.96(h) x 0.87(d)

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