PR Newswire-Story Celebrating Inner City Teacher and Students Wins 'Book of the Year' and National Award of Distinction

HILADELPHIA, May 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Loyalty. Perseverance. Leadership. These virtues, and the force 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 best-selling book, published in January 2004 in paperback, will be honored as the Non Fiction Book of the Year at the Blackboard Book Awards in New York on June 4, 2005. The award will be presented during the 103rd Book Expo America Convention, the world's largest meeting for the book publishing industry. The event will take place at the Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City and other winners include, Tonya Lewis Lee (wife of Spike Lee) for her work in fiction, Wynton Marsalis for his music book and Jada Pinkett Smith for her children's book. Dr. Maya Angelou will receive a lifetime achievement award and Terry McMillan will be awarded on that evening for her accomplishments as a writer.

Thomas-EL's book, "I Choose to Stay," has garnered the attention of Walt Disney Pictures, which has agreed to distribute a movie based on his 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.