Lexington Three, Saluda Schools partner for Convocation


Michael Bonner (right) signs books for B-L Primary School teachers Erika Smith (center) and Kelly Johnson (left).  Mr. Bonner served as the keynote speaker for the Back-to-School Convocation for staff in Lexington Three and Saluda County school districts. (Photo submitted by Mackenzie Taylor / LexingtonThree Schools)


Staff members from Lexington County School District Three and Saluda County Schools came together on Thursday, Aug. with one mission in mind — to prepare themselves to make a profound impact on students each and every day of the 2019-2020 school year.

This common goal was the overarching theme of the school districts’ collaborative Back-to-School Convocation, held at the Lexington Three Fine Arts Center. The event was attended by teachers, administrators and other staff members, who heard remarks from Lexington Three Interim Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hefner and Saluda County School District Superintendent Dr. Harvey Livingston.

The crowd also was wowed by guest speaker Michael Bonner. Mr. Bonner is a nationally-known teacher and visionary leader who has received praise and recognition for his positive, unique and innovative educational strategies for students who may be coping with adverse childhood experiences.

Mr. Bonner previously taught second grade at South Greenville Elementary School, a Title I school in North Carolina. There, a large majority of the students endure poverty, challenging familial dynamics and in some cases, even face homelessness. In 2016, Mr. Bonner began to realize that to break through the barriers that were preventing his students from learning, he had to figure out a different way to engage them. So, he turned to music, allowing students to create lyrics and beats from the content they were studying.

His novel idea worked, as students began engaging on a higher level and achieving greater academic success. As a reward for their efforts, Mr. Bonner’s second grade class created an educational music video together and uploaded it to social media, catching the attention of news organizations nationwide.  In early 2017, Mr. Bonner was recognized for his efforts by talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who not only presented Mr. Bonner and his school with educational equipment but also flew him and his entire class to Los Angeles to visit her studios.

Wal-Mart also presented South Greenville Elementary School with nearly $50,000 to help enhance the school’s learning environment. In addition, Mr. Bonner was honored by NBC Nightly News, the Ashton Kutcher Foundation, Flocabulary, and Front Row, just to name a few organizations.

Since 2017, Mr. Bonner has continued his work of promoting unique teaching strategies in the field of education. He has conducted more than 100 keynote speeches and workshop sessions to educators around the world and has written several books, all while continuing to make a huge impact on the lives of generations to come through his work as a teacher.

“It’s a privilege and honor to welcome Mr. Bonner to Batesburg-Leesville and to be able to kick off the new school year collaboratively with Saluda County Schools,” said Angie Rye, Chief Academic Officer for Lexington Three. “This is just one more example of how our districts continue to work together for the greater good of our students.”

Last school year, Lexington Three and Saluda County School Districts partnered to provide welding and firefighting courses to students in both districts through the Innovation Collaboration Pilot Project. The classes, funded by the South Carolina Department of Education and through grants obtained by the Town of Batesburg-Leesville, are housed at Batesburg-Leesville High School.

Students from Saluda County Schools attend the classes with their B-L counterparts. As part of the collaboration, transportation is provided for students. Students who complete the firefighting course and pass the state skills test are able to obtain their Firefighter Certification, giving them an opportunity to help fill the growing need for volunteer firefighters in the Town of Batesburg-Leesville and the Town of Saluda. Welding students are also able to obtain a certification if they finish a certain level of the program. This year, students at B-L High School will have the opportunity to participate in a Health Sciences class at Saluda High School as part of the collaboration project.

Story by Mackenzie Taylor – Lexington Three Schools / Posted August 22, 2019