A Conversation with Salome Thomas-E by Valerie Read

A conversation with Humanities is a lecture series were prominent people in our community come to speak to the students at Edmonds Community College. One of guest speakers that came to the Black Box Theatre on Tues May 18 was Educator Salome Thomas-E. He was invited to come and speak about his 20 years of service as a teacher, principal and national education consultant. He lectured on the three basic principles of his success as a teacher in the Philadelphia schools. “The most important is having a connection with the student, getting to know that young lady or gentleman by asking about their life at home or at school and be part of their world, “ says Thomas-E, “This shows that student that you care about them and want to help them to succeed in getting a proper education.”

Thomas-E is the second to the youngest of eight children living in the housing projects in Philadelphia. His mother had marched young Thomas-E into the classroom of his elementary school and begged the teacher to help him succeed in school. “That teacher could have said to my mother that I have 25 over students to take care, but she didn’t,” says Thomas-E, “because of that I was able to finish school and go on to college to earn a MA in communications.” He got a job at the NBA working with the basket ball players, such as Charles Barkley. He was asked to visit schools and talk to the students about his work at the NBA. One student asked him why he wasn’t a teacher and this fueled something deep inside him.

His first job was as a teacher and chess coach at Vaux Middle School. Thomas-E worked with these students and enlisted people in the community to help support them. “The ladies at the church helped us raise money for blazers and luggage, because these students were traveling with clothes in a plastic bag, “said Thomas. His work with these students earned him a job as a principal and then he had to learn to work with the teachers. “My mother said to go to the old ladies who have taught at the school for a long time whose students were the children of the they’re former students,” said Thomas, “when I stood up in front of those teachers and spoke”, “I forgot to drop the old in front of the ladies.”

Thomas-E worked with the administration, students, and parents. His philosophy is that the students need leadership, mentoring, community and support to help the kids succeed in getting a proper education. “You need to believe in them until they believe in themselves, “said Thomas-E. He lectured that we have enough leaders in this country, but we need more leadership. “It is the duty of the administration to serve the people, not the people to serve the administration,” said Thomas-E

His goal for education is that it is the duty of the teachers to show the students that they will always be there for the student from start to finish and that we need positive people in the community to support them along their way to succeeding in school. The most important part of Thomas-E’s goals for education of student is through physically and spiritually. “We need maximum impact in community and you need to be in close proximity if you want to help the students in their journey for education and you want them to come back to be pillars in their community,” says Thomas-E.

He is the author of best-selling books “I Choose to Stay” which has been optioned for a movie from Disney and “The Immortality of Influence”. Thomas-E is a regular contributor on “The Dr. Oz Show” and appears as a guest speaker on C-Span, CNN and NPR Radio. He has been awarded the Marcus A. Foster award as the outstanding school district administrator in Philadelphia and given the distinguished Martin Luther King Award from the University of Pennsylvania. Reader’s Digest has honored Salome Thomas-E as “Inspiring American Icon”. He is known nation wide as Principal EL.

“I have read about Salome Thomas-E in a book titled “How to Tame a Dragon” which is about fatherless boys here in the USA, “said Kristin Heusinkueld. Heusinkueld is a student here at Edmonds Community College and has applied to the University of Philadelphia. “I feel that Principle EL is the real deal because he blends practical advice with life issues that affect us all, said Heusinkueld, “and he makes life so cool.”

Heusinkueld walked up to meet Thomas-E at the Black Box Theatre. She shook his hand and he autographed a book for her. I had the opportunity to take a picture of them standing together. Thomas-E asked for Heusinkueld’s cell phone number and told her to contact him when she is ever in Philadelphia. When anyone approaches Thomas-E he is attentive and affectionate toward them. He autographs their books, takes pictures with them and speaks to them about their education goals. “Smart is not what you are it is what you become, said Thomas-E. His openness, eagerness, and affection toward anyone who needs help in getting education are the reason why so many of us respect him. I asked Thomas-E on what project he is working on now. “I am working with students at Thomas Edison Charter School in Wilmington, Delaware and afterwards I will be working on my dissertation,” said Thomas-E. If you are interested in helping the students at Thomas Edison Charter School in Wilmington, Delaware you can contact Salome Thomas-E at his website www.PrincipleEL.com or contact the charter school directly at their website www.thomasedison.charter.k12.de.us.

“God Bless You for supporting young people”, Salome Thomas-EL.


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