CCS staff kicks off new school year at Convocation with a focus on #OneChatham


SANFORD — More than 1,000 Chatham County Schools staff members filled the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center last Wednesday to celebrate the upcoming start of the 2022-23 school year.

The themes for convocation were “the Power of One” — incorporating the idea that one person can bring about change — as well as “One Chatham,” the district’s new strategic plan that ensures all students have access to the same opportunities in academics, the arts and athletics in Chatham County Schools. The high-energy event, which kicked off with high school bands, cheerleaders and school mascots, left employees feeling excited and inspired for the coming year.

“To have our staff all present in the same location sharing the same experience has set the tone for a very innovative, exciting and energized 2022-2023 school year,” Superintendent Dr. Anthony Jackson said. “We are looking forward to seeing what our students achieve this year as we strive to provide each and every one of them with the educational pathways they both want and need to reach their full potential. We are One Chatham, building on the Power of One, where each of us can impact a life for the better.”

In addressing the staff at convocation, Jackson shared goals and expectations for the coming academic year, including regaining a greater sense of normalcy by building on routines, relationships and traditional school events, which will help the district achieve the desired results for students.

He also reviewed the district’s new One Chatham 2022-2027 Strategic Plan that the Chatham County Board of Education approved at its Aug. 15 meeting and talked to the staff about the projected growth for Chatham County and the impact it will have on the school system.

“This is going to be a great school year,” Jackson said. “The table has been set for us to engage and serve our students and families in the best ways possible.”

Staff members said the event was a great way to get the new school year started.

“It was a fantastic convocation,” said Virginia Cross Elementary School teacher Tammy Trotter. “Thanks for getting the 2022-2023 school year started off in a big way!”

Keynote speaker Michael Bonner delivered a powerful message, focusing on being positively present and engaged with students and colleagues. Bonner is a 4th- hand 6th-grade teacher at The Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta who is CEO of Bonnerville, which provides self-care assistance for educators. He also has been featured on “The Ellen Show,” “NBC Nightly News’’ and “Time for Kids,” and has partnered with organizations such as Discovery Education, Lego Education and 3M.

“You can’t demand a withdrawal from someone you’ve never invested in,” he said in his keynote address. “... Whenever anybody says relationships matter, understand this: Depth in relationships matters.”

He encouraged CCS staff members to strengthen their relationships with their students and their families by considering their individual experiences.

“We are the only business that does not ask our clientele — students — how do they enjoy the experience within our schools,” he said. “I’m not asking my children in my class to control my classroom. I’m simply asking them how can you experience Mr. Bonner better in this environment so you have self-efficacy.”

He also urged staff members to be careful around behaviors with each other that can create toxic environments resistant to change and offered advice on how to build collective synergy.

Staff members at Bonlee School said the event was “invigorating.” Virginia Cross Elementary Media Center Tweeted, “Michael Bonner is so inspiring. What a great keynote at Convocation …”

The event ended on high notes: Pittsboro Elementary School, led by new principal Lemondrè Watson, won the coveted School Spirit Award. And Pittsboro Elementary School student Emma Ortiz delivered a moving rendition of “A Million Dreams,” leaving some in the audience in tears.


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