Celebrated teacher talks about Wednesday's rally, why he stays in NC

More than 200 teachers from Pitt County, including Michael Bonner, who will be taking four buses while others carpool to the "March for Students and Rally for Respect." (Ashley Boles, NewsChannel 12 photo)

We're two days from the teacher rally scheduled for Wednesday in Raleigh. The event could bring more than 15,000 from across the state to the state capitol.

There will be no school Wednesday in Onslow, Pitt, Wayne, Wilson and Nash counties. There will be four tour buses with at least 55 teachers -- around 350 in all -- on each bus from Pitt County that will attend the event. Others will also be carpooling to the "March for Students and Rally for Respect." One of those teachers who will be there is Michael Bonner. He's taught second grade classes at South Greenville Elementary for five years.

But everyone knows him from the viral video of his class that ended up on "Ellen" and made him a viral sensation. Bonner said he's received lots of offers to teach elsewhere but is happy in Greenville, despite the challenges he and other teachers face in their classroom daily.

11 p.m. report

"I have probably received 20 job offers from all over the United States of America," Bonner said. "The reason I stayed in NC this year is because I have a goal for my children.

"But teacher pay is an issue. If I wanted to buy a house right now, I would probably need somebody else with me to make sure I'm able to get a mortgage."

Bonner said supporting our students is number one and ultimately, he wants to make sure they have the resources they need to be successful.

"Students need resources to be able to close the learning gaps and achievement gaps," said State Sen. Erica Smith of District 3.

"We have a lot of things that we need to address inside the profession of education," Bonner said.

A budget proposal last week by Gov. Roy Cooper aims to bring teacher salaries to the national average in four years. Bonner said he's ready to stand with his fellow co-workers and give lawmakers reasons why they too should prioritize teachers and students.

"I'm grateful to everyone who's been supporting this movement so far and I think its going to be a great conversation starter,"Bonner said.

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