Nubian Circle Book Club

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I Choose To Stay Book Review

Phyllis Rhodes

Moving Memoir!

Salome Thomas-EL's  I Choose to Stay: A Black Teacher Refuses to Desert the Inner-City  is a testament of selfless dedication and commitment to Philadelphia's inner-city community.  He opens by recapping his childhood and ever-present internal drive to succeed despite the obstacles in his path.  Born into a large family with little money and an absentee father, Mr. Thomas-EL excelled academically and stayed out of trouble as a youth.  His record of accomplishment earned him respect from instructors who encouraged him to live up to his potential despite peer pressure to do otherwise.  He credits his mother and teachers as having the greatest influence on his life and has made it his mission to reciprocate all the many blessings he has received.

He shares that early in his life he felt he was destined to teach and cites a few early adult experiences that seemed to confirm the inevitable.  His innovative academic programs, strong rapport with students, and love of teaching led him to become an effective and influential educator and role model.  Mr. Thomas-EL meticulously chronicles the resurgence and accomplishments of the Vaux Chess Team and the strategies that he used to encourage and develop the students'
skills for the game and life's hard lessons.  As stated in the foreword written by Arnold Schwarzenegger, there is no doubt that Salome Thomas-EL is to be commended for his tireless efforts and devotion to the children of Vaux Middle School.  Written in the same vein of Joe Clark's Lean On Me, Thomas-EL's I Choose To Stay is proof that inner-city public schools can succeed and produce great students.

Although Thomas-EL's story is truly inspirational, it is the construct of the
memoir that distracts from the story.  There are some passages and concepts that are repeated and the story's flow stalled in a few areas.  However, if the reader is looking for a positive, feel good, encouraging story, then this novel delivers.

The Nubian Circle Book Club rating for I Choose To Stay is 3 out of 5 stars. We welcome your comments and thoughts about this book review.  Please e-mail us at: