How do you champion students through failure, success, and the creative process? In this episode of the Fueling Creativity in Education podcast, Dr. Cyndi Burnett and Dr. Matthew Worwood welcome Dr. Salome Thomas-EL, aka Principal EL, an award-winning principal, teacher, speaker, and author.

Tune in to learn how to motivate children who find success early in school, the innovative ways Principal EL teaches math, and the benefits of using games and game-based learning in the classroom. Principal EL highlights how he’s using chess to help students build resilience, creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking skills.


“Failure is motivating. Success can be paralyzing.”
 – Salome Thomas-EL


Principal EL offers advice for parents and teachers on supporting students while helping them navigate failure and embrace their creativity on a daily basis. Then, he shares the inspiring story behind his book, I Choose to Stay, and speaks to teachers who are entering the profession, considering leaving it, or transitioning to another leadership position in education. He also sheds light on how he supports teachers and students as a school administrator.

“Choose impact over compliance.” – Salome Thomas-EL

Principal EL’s Tips for Teachers and Parents:

  1. Allow students to be themselves. Ask students what they like, then tap into that and create joyful experiences for them.
  2. Choose impact over compliance. Make sure you’re making decisions that will impact your students and their families in powerful ways. Move away from relying on assessments and more towards developing soft skills.
  3. Understand that creativity is a prerequisite for innovation.
  4. Engage students before giving them information.

“That self-esteem… comfort with expressing themselves, feelings of pride and accomplishment, all of those are stoked by creativity.” – Salome Thomas-EL

About Dr. Salome Thomas-EL:

Dr. Salome Thomas-EL, aka Principal EL, is an award-winning teacher, principal, speaker, and internationally recognized educator. Principal EL is currently a K-8 school leader in Wilmington, Delaware and speaks to groups around the world. He was a regular contributor on the “The Dr. Oz Show” and is the author of the best-selling books, I Choose to Stay (movie rights optioned by Disney Films), The Immortality of Influence, which stresses the importance of leadership, mentoring, parenting and service to others. He is the co-author of the newly released, Passionate Leadership, Building a Winning Team, and Retention for Change.

Principal EL has addressed over 100,000 teachers, administrators, school staff, board members, parents, students and community members in the United States, Canada, Nigeria, Trinidad, England, Jamaica, and The Virgin Islands and frequently appears on C-SPAN, CNN, and NPR Radio. He has studied at Cambridge University in England, Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, and holds a doctorate in Education from Wilmington University in Delaware. He has received the Marcus A. Foster Award as the outstanding School District Administrator in Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania’s distinguished Martin Luther King Award.

Follow Principal EL’s website
Follow him on Instagram
Follow him on Twitter
Connect with him on Facebook
Subscribe to his YouTube channel

Recommended Resources:

Principal EL – TEDx PennsburgED – Every Kid Deserves Someone Crazy About Them
Check out Principal EL’s books

Eager to bring more creativity into your home or classroom?

Access a variety of creativity resources and tools & listen to more episodes of The Fueling Creativity in Education Podcast by visiting our website,

How can you promote Teacher Creativity?

Read and watch how the concept of Teacher Creativity and Design Thinking can increase teacher agency using new technology, help build a culture of innovation, and support diversity and inclusion and social-emotional learning at your school. Visit

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