Longtime Stockton educator, mentor dies at 84

Mable “Jimi” Choice, an educator, poet, mentor, and longtime Stockton resident who influenced a number of lives, died suddenly on September 24th.

She was 84.

Choice was affectionately known by a number of nicknames – Jimi, Ms. Choice, and Nana – she was an educator and counselor for the Stockton Unified School District for more than 30 years, caring for hundreds of children.

Choice was born in Denver in 1937. She graduated from Manual High School and, undeterred by racial segregation, became the first female drummer in the school band.

More: Educator, Poet, Mentor Choice is still going strong as she approaches 80

After graduating from Colorado Teachers College (now University of Northern Colorado) as top of the class and meeting her husband, John Choice, they moved to California and arrived in Stockton.

Mable Choice was the first color teacher at Stagg High School when she was hired by Stockton Unified in 1963.

“They hired me unseen,” she told The Record in 2017, “right on the phone”.

When Choice – and her family – overcame racial adversity in the 1990s, she continued her professional development while helping children at the same time. After working as a sports, dance, swimming and golf instructor at Stagg, she found her calling in consulting.

She attended California State University in Sacramento, received her Masters in Counseling, and was promoted to Franklin High School as a career counselor.


During her years at Stockton Unified – and the hundreds of students she helped – a then-district student Michael Tubbs spent some time under Choice’s care.

“MS. The election was my letter of recommendation to the city’s advisory board,” Tubbs said in 2017 shortly after he was elected Mayor of Stockton.

He recalled that Choice drove him and other students to student government events, “It helped me become the person I am today.”

In the past few years, Choice had self-published numerous volumes of poetry and was on several groups such as the national and local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Black Teachers Association, the Stockton Black Chamber of Commerce, and the Stockton Black Leadership Council employed .

“Mable was a member of our local office and chaired the ACT-SO program in the late 1980s and early 1990s,” said Bobby Bivens, president of the NAACP Stockton Branch, an academic achievement program for African American students.

The local office had to raise money to send teens to national competition at the national NAACP conference, and Choice helped them succeed, Bivens said. “She was an outstanding member of the community … and was pretty much second to none,” in her work with students, including the NAACP youth council and the BSU (Black Student Unions).

The retired counselor for the Stockton Unified School District, Mable Choice, takes the microphone during a poetry slam with Pierced Ear on February 17, 2011.

She was a role model who helped hundreds of young people in the community and did everything to help the students succeed, Bivens said. “The NAACP family will miss you.”

“She was quite a lady,” said Tim Ulmer, Stocktonian of the Year 2014.

Choice “always had words of encouragement,” he said. “Stockton was fortunate to have her in the ward.”

A celebration of life is scheduled to take place on October 16 and 17. Details will be announced.

Record reporter Laura Diaz reports on social justice and societal issues. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @laurasdiaz_. To support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at https://www.recendet.com/subscribenow.

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