VALDOSTA, Ga – The secret was hard to keep, but worth it. For a few weeks the whispers and top secret emails and phone calls continued emphasizing the importance of not letting the cat out of the bag.
A very special award was going to be presented on Thursday, October 10, 2019, to Valdosta Early College Academy (VECA) Assistant Principal Dr. Johnnie Marshall.
The plan was to make Dr. Marshall think it was a day like any other, and that there was an assembly every one was to attend.
But then…a pivot.
Marshall was presented with a Milken Educator Award by Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley and Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods.
Marshall was named a 2019-20 recipient of the national recognition, which comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. He is the only Milken Educator Award winner from Georgia this year, and is among up to 40 honorees for 2019-20.
Dr. Foley watched the students holding the green numbers flipping them over one by one and said, “Can we find one more zero?” as State School Superintendent Richard Woods held up another card, totaling $25,000.
Marshall is bringing that future to fruition for his students. By blending digital media with traditional classroom methods, this tech-savvy educator prepares students for rapid advances in technology with hands-on experience. VECA students jumpstart their college careers and everything beyond through a partnership established with nearby Valdosta State University. A caring educator who prioritizes STEM initiatives and positive behavior, Marshall keeps parents in the loop and staff engaged by promoting open communication and professional development.
“Recognizing that the power of technology can only increase the potential of his students, Dr. Johnnie Marshall lights the way for both the faculty and his students,” said Foley. “He understands the formula for success, and gives his students everything they need to make their higher education goals a reality.”
“Dr. Johnnie Marshall is a committed, supportive, and inspiring educator who builds relationships with his students, invests in their lives, and prepares them for a better future,” said Woods. “He is eminently deserving of this honor and I’m grateful to the Milken Family Foundation for recognizing this outstanding Georgia educator.”
“The Milken Educator Award is the most prestigious honor bestowed to those in our profession,” said Superintendent of Valdosta City Schools (VCS) Dr. William “Todd” Cason. “The selection of one of our valued and outstanding VCS educators, Dr. Johnnie Marshall, as a 2019 Milken recipient is beyond exciting, not to mention we are extremely proud of his recognition. Dr. Marshall epitomizes professionalism, innovation, integrity and dedication to the education of our students in Valdosta City Schools and Valdosta Early College Academy, specifically. We are excited about the unlimited possibilities in the field of public education Dr. Marshall will have as part of this achievement and look forward to supporting all his future endeavors.”
Every student at VECA works with an iPad or MacBook from sixth grade to high school graduation thank to Dr. Mashall, who set up the 1:1 device initiative through a partnership with VSU several years ago.
The Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching” has been opening minds and shaping futures for over 30 years. Research shows teacher quality is the driving in-school factor behind student growth and achievement. The initiative not only aims to reward great teachers, but to celebrate, elevate and activate those innovators in the classroom who are guiding America’s next generation of leaders. Milken Educators believe, “The future belongs to the educated.”
PHOTOS: Courtesy of “Milken Family Foundation”