Fort Mill School District inducts new Hall of Fame class

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FORT MILL — The Class of 2019 was inducted into the Fort Mill School District Hall of Fame on Jan. 22. This year’s class was made up of three individuals who made a lasting contribution to education in Fort Mill.

Here are brief biographies of the new inductees that was supplied by the Fort Mill School District Media Relations Office:

Dr. Molly Coggins

Molly Coggins

Long before “Children First” became the mantra of the Fort Mill School District, Dr. Molly Coggins had adopted it as a personal mission.

Dr. Coggins worked in the Fort Mill School District for nearly 30 years. She began her career as a teacher at Fort Mill Elementary, where she also supervised student teachers from Winthrop University and Limestone College.

In 1980, Dr. Coggins became the program coordinator for Learning Experiences and Parenting (the LEAP program) at Fort Mill Primary School, a program that provided support and enrichment for pre-school age students and their parents and prepared them for kindergarten.  She later became the director for the LEAP program before taking the position of curriculum coordinator for Fort Mill Primary.

In 1986, Dr. Coggins became the principal of Fort Mill Primary, a role she served in for the next fifteen years. After retirement, Dr. Coggins continued to serve the community as a counselor for 10 years.

During her career, Dr. Coggins was honored multiple times for her service to our schools. She was twice named the Fort Mill Times’ Principal of the Year, Outstanding Teacher of the Year for the Fort Mill School District, and was named one of the “Outstanding Women in South Carolina.”

“Dr. Coggins embodied all that was good in education and worked hard to ensure that every student had access to the education he/she deserved,” says nominator Angela Struve.

Joe Bonds

Joe Bonds

Joe Bonds served as a teacher, coach, and principal in his professional career before coming to Fort Mill as Superintendent from 1980 to 1994.

His time with the Fort Mill School District brought about many changes and new initiatives, including strategic planning, a facilities improvement plan, a systematic teacher evaluation program and differentiated professional learning opportunities for faculty. He was a leader in technology, with the automation of the media centers and the integration of instructional technology. He also was instrumental in the implementation of the Reading Recovery Program.

Notably, Bonds made a point to visit every teacher’s classroom every year.

He was named Superintendent of the Year by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators in 1993 and given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators in 1994.

“He developed a culture that embraced innovation and provided a support system for changes and continuous improvement,” said nominator Ann Bogan.

“Mr. Bonds was a true servant leader, exhibited by his dedication to all the stakeholders of the Fort Mill School District, and a transformational leader who launched our school district into one of the most respected district in the state and nation.”

Elliott Littleton Avery

Head shot photos of Dr. Molly Coggins, Joe Bonds and the George Fish School monument.
The George Fish School monument in Fort Mill’s Paradise neighborhood.

Elliott Littleton Avery came to Fort Mill to be the principal of Old Academy after serving as a lieutenant in World War I.  Professor Elliott L. Avery was the first principal of George Fish School from 1925 until his death in 1938.

Professor Elliott L. Avery served as the principal of the Old Academy from 1921 until its closing in 1925 and continued as the principal at the newly constructed George Fish School for the African-American community during segregation. He and his family resided in the principal’s home adjacent to the school. He bought property behind the school-owned principal’s house, where he built a two-story home and swimming pool with water supplied from a natural spring. The pool attracted members of the Paradise community and out of town guests.

Professor Avery was active in the historic and predominately black Paradise community as a member of Bethlehem Baptist Church and as a registered insurance agent. He was dedicated to his duties as both a teacher and principal at George Fish School until his death in 1938.

In tribute to his leadership and community service, his remains were interred on the grounds of the school and later moved to a nearby cemetery. In the 1950s, Avery Street in the Paradise community was named in his honor.