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Motivation Leads to Innovation - the Audacity to Get Up
Let us be honest. The turnover rate within education is a serious dilemma which we have yet to solve. A study conducted at UCLA showed only 4% of college freshmen were interested in following the path to become an educator. We know that the profession of teaching is not an easy one. In schools all across the country, creating new and innovative strategies within the classroom is an exciting, but seemingly daunting task. For many reasons, the school climate can become toxic--suffocating the life out of teachers and negatively impacting student performance. In order to shift the school culture, it begins with individual teachers making the decision to change their classroom into an engaging learning environment. Michael Bonner will share how he utilized the power of self-reflection to evaluate his qualities and performance as a teacher--navigating the tumultuous waves of working within a Title I school (100% free and reduced lunch)--to understanding the value of applying creativity.
This talk was presented at:
2019 National ESEA Conference
January 2019 in Kansas City, MO
Michael Bonner

I wish I could go back to second grade, so Mr. Bonner could be my teacher," were the words Ellen Degeneres released on her social media accounts in early January 2017. This is when she learned of how Mr. Bonner's unique, rap-filled teaching methods encouraged students to go above and beyond on a reading test.


Mr. Bonner is an inspiring second grade teacher at North Carolina's South Greenville Elementary, where the majority of students have strenuous familial dynamics and many are homeless. The school is 100% FRL (free and reduced lunch) and is located in an impoverished neighborhood in Eastern North Carolina. In early 2017, Bonner was honored by Ellen DeGeneres in recognition of his positive and innovative educational approaches for children coping with the challenges of poverty. Ellen presented Bonner and his school with technical equipment to assist in the creation of music videos serving as aids to education. Additionally, Wal-Mart presented the school with $25,000, and the Ellen Show created a Go Fund Me site for South Greenville, which has raised over $88,000 for the Title I school.


With only four years in K-12 education, Mr. Bonner is consistently seen as a visionary leader who strives to create a positive mindset among all of his students. He understands that his students come to class each day with diverse backgrounds, strengths, needs, and challenges, and seeks to identify strategies to ensure the growth of their social, emotional, academic, and psychological needs. Because of his approach to education, students leave feeling a little more hopeful, challenged, inspired, and forever a part of Bonnerville!