"I Choose to Stay"  in Media Spotlight


May 15, 2004

Contact: Jennifer Braxton
(215) 350-2775

"I Choose To Stay" Receives Silver Angel Award from EIM
Seals Movie Deal with Walt Disney Pictures

PHILADELPHIA, PA - Loyalty.  Perseverance.  Leadership.  These virtues, and the dedication of being driven by a purpose larger than the self, are the themes of I Choose To Stay, a memoir written by award winning principal, chess coach and mentor Salome Thomas-EL.  The book, published just last year, has garnered the attention of Walt Disney Pictures, which has agreed to distribute a movie based on Thomas-EL's life story.  A humble yet dedicated educator, he revived the chess team of an inner-city Philadelphia middle school and led them to victory at the national championships.   

"Right from the beginning, I worked on a single principle," says Thomas-EL.  "These students would never know they couldn't be successful --- I would inspire them to believe they could win."  At the time, Thomas-EL had no idea how well that simple philosophy would pay off. 
I Choose to Stay will be excerpted in the upcoming book, Chicken Soup for the African American Soul, and also received the 2004 Silver Angel Award in the Print category from Excellence in Media (EIM). 

EIM is a California-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of quality family oriented programming. It has been described as "the greatest, unique and caring media outreach in the world today."  The Excellence in Media award places
I Choose To Stay, a best-seller, among the ranks of other awardees, Primetime ABC News New York, Joan of Arcadia, and National Geographic Explorer.

I Choose To Stay (Kensington - March 2003) is based on a choice Thomas-EL made in November 1997 to turn down a promotion and remain at Vaux Middle School, despite a $25,000 raise and the power to influence a greater number of students, if he transferred to another school.  California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was so impressed by Thomas-EL and his students during a visit - one girl on the team defeated the Governor in a chess match - that he awarded the school a $20,000 grant.   Arnold Schwarzenegger, a strong supporter, wrote the foreword to I Choose To Stay.

The Disney movie will be produced and directed by brothers
Greg and Gavin O'Connor, along with Tim Chambers at Solaris Entertainment.  They were most recently teamed together for the hit movie 'Miracle,' an inspirational story about the 1980 Gold Medal winning USA Olympic Hockey team.



Other Sources

The Chess Drum, "Disney to make "I Choose to Stay" into a movie!"
6 February 2004.

The Chess Drum, "Former Vaux Students Making the Grade," 
22 July 2003.

The Chess Drum, "Book on Chess Triumph has "Staying Power,"
14 June 2003.

The Chess Drum, "I Choose to Stay" now available at bookstores!!"
7 March 2003.

The Chess Drum, "Chess Coach unveils book about chess triumph at Philly's Vaux!"
26 January 2003.

The Chess Drum, "A Principled Chess Coach says, 'I Choose to Stay',"
27 February 2002.

Roberts Vaux Chess Team website (1997-98)

Posted by The Chess Drum:  3 June 2004