Principal Feels Duty to Support Students Drives Him to Stay in Education Profession

In Washington, Principal Salome Thomas-EL of Thomas Edison Charter School in Wilmington, Delaware emphasized the challenges and importance of being an educator during the ASCD annual conference recently.
Thomas-EL shared his experience as a principal, noting the recent incident where a bullet pierced his office window, highlighting the difficulties faced in leading a school.

Traumatic events such as hurricanes, pandemics, and school shootings often prompt educators to leave the profession, but Thomas-EL focused on the reasons why educators choose to stay in their roles and how administrators can support them.

Principal Thomas-EL, who has been leading the 600-student K-8 Thomas Edison school for 14 years, stressed the importance of consistency and care in supporting students, emphasizing the need for positive role models in their lives.
The recent incident involving a stray bullet striking his office window served as a stark reminder of the daily fear some students face due to shootings in their neighborhoods.

Thomas-EL underlined the necessity of maintaining high expectations while also providing a caring environment for students, emphasizing the importance of bringing rigor and joy to the school environment every day.

Recounting a memorable experience from another school, Thomas-EL shared the impact of helping elementary students with disabilities form a chess club, leading to remarkable achievements and victories against other schools. Students at Thomas Edison ultimately clinched the U.S. Chess Federation National Elementary Chess Championship in 2014.

Principal Thomas-EL urged educators to embrace innovation and curiosity, fostering a culture of accountability and trust within the school.
He emphasized the importance of listening to staff, addressing challenges collaboratively, and shielding teachers from external pressures to create a conducive learning environment.

Encouraging educators to be sources of strength and joy for students and colleagues, Thomas-EL emphasized the significance of maintaining a positive outlook amidst negativity.
As the school year comes to a close, students eagerly inquire about his return, reflecting the impact of his dedication and commitment to their growth.

“My story is not exceptional,” Thomas-EL acknowledged. “There are thousands of you every day that make that choice to be there when you can be doing anything else in the world.”

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