by Kellie Cochrane
Yesterday, Principal Salome Thomas – El spoke to some of our supporters at the Gilmore Car Museum. Principal El has been a powerful advocate for education for over 20 years and is the author of the best-selling book, I Choose to Stay. He shared his story of working in inner city schools and how he uses chess to give students intellectual confidence.
Principal El opened with something he shares with his students: “A dream without a plan is a hallucination.” He spoke about the power of mentors, how we must teach our children to plan for their future, even when they fail along the way. He congratulated our region on our early grade reading turnaround, going from 5% of students reading at proficiency level to 82%. One of the things he asks parents at his school in Philadelphia is to simply read with their children, because he knows the change that can bring is astounding.
Principal El also reminded us that: “We have 7 million minutes to help our kids from pre-K to high school, and we can’t afford to waste one.” He believes we have a responsibility as a community, to see our kids graduate, to help them to be successful, and most importantly, to teach them how to respond to failure. There will be times they fail, there will be students who come to school every day at a disadvantage, which is why it takes all of us coming together to provide the support every child deserves.
Our United Way supporters were both moved and inspired by Principal El’s message. He definitely reminded all of us how truly important our work in education is. We’d like to offer our sincere thanks to him for coming to speak with us and, for his hard work and passion for all children.