Skip to main content
November 30, 2018

Fight for Grade-Level Reading Podcast Episode 5: Michael Bonner on Why Passion is the Key

This week, we talk to Michael Bonner. You might know him as the rapping teacher who was on the Ellen Degeneris show a couple years back. Besides turning around his classes at South Greenville Elementary in North Carolina, Bonner wrote a book called “Get Up or Give Up: How I Almost Gave Up on Teaching.”

He doesn’t have a program or initiative that people can adopt, but he has a clear understanding of what makes a successful teacher, with advice that applies to anyone who works on helping children be successful in academics, and in life.

Here’s my favorite quote from the interview: “We need to realize that with every child we come into contact with we have the ability to steer them into greatness.”

Here’s a link to the Georgetown University report on uninsured children I mention in the final thought.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesOmnyGoogle Podcasts or by searching in your favorite podcast app. If you want to know why we’re doing this podcast, here’s some background.

We also want to hear from you. You can share your experiences in the fight for grade-level reading by connecting with us at, or by leaving us a message at 941-361-4820. You can also record a voice memo on your phone and email it to us — we may include some of those messages in future episodes of the podcast. Find more grade-level reading content at

This story comes from a partnership between the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and the Herald-Tribune, funded by The Patterson Foundation, to cover school readiness, attendance, summer learning, healthy readers and parent engagement. Read more stories at

Share this post