Growing up in the rural city of Whigham, Georgia, the value of education was instilled in Johnnie Marshall Jr. at a young age. From family members and teachers who impacted and helped shape his life, Marshall embraces the value and life-changing potential of education.
“I loved school and gravitated to school life,” says Marshall, who headed to Valdosta State University after graduating from Cairo High School in 2006. “I’ve always known I wanted to pursue a career in education.”
A three-time graduate of VSU, Marshall earned a Bachelor of Science in Education, Master’s degree in Middle Grades Education, and a Doctor of Education.
A proclaimed life-long learner, Marshall is passionate about inspiring students through the learning process.
During his junior year at VSU, he received his first glimpse of classroom instruction as a student observer with the Valdosta Early College Academy (VECA). A partnership with VSU and Valdosta City Schools, VECA provides students with a solid academic focus and emphasis on college preparation.
“I fell in love with the program,” says Marshall, who also completed his student teaching requirements at VECA. “After my first experience with the program, I extended my support as a volunteer by tutoring and mentoring students.”
When the offer came to join VECA’s teaching staff, Marshall didn’t hesitate to say “yes.”
“I loved school and gravitated to school life. I’ve always known I wanted to pursue a career in education.” — Johnnie Marshall, Jr
For more than a decade, Marshall has been a part of VECA’s transformation, moving from classroom teacher to school administrator and a nationally recognized academic leader.
“I am a beneficiary of the collaboration of Valdosta City Schools and Valdosta State University,” says Marshall, who was named 2013 VECA Teacher of the Year. “I have reaped so many benefits as an educator. VECA is comprised of passionate, inspiring teachers who love what they do every day. They understand the mission of early college academies and how the experience can impact a student’s future.”
Just five years into his classroom teaching career, Marshall was named an Apple Distinguished Educator for his work to implement Apple technologies within the classroom.
He continued to push for innovative technology access and was instrumental in VECA being one of the first schools in South Georgia to implement an iPad initiative that placed mobile technology in the hands of every student and teacher.
“The iPads help leverage teaching and learning in inconceivable ways,” says Marshall, who was recognized nationally for his tech-savvy prowess with the 2019-2020 Milken Educator Award. “They amplify the student’s voice in projects and help personalize instruction. It’s moving past pencil and paper instruction.”
Having the iPad technology securely in place was instrumental in VECA’s seamless transition to virtual learning during the COVID pandemic.
“Our teachers and students were equipped with the skills to transition 100% to virtual learning,” says Marshall, who received VSU’s James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services Alumnus of the Year award in 2019. “Because we already had the devices and were utilizing the technology, we continued to meet the academic needs of our students.”
After being named assistant principal at VECA in 2015, Marshall continued to set higher professional goals for himself, including becoming a principal.
He participated in the first cohort of Aspiring Principals Academy with the Governor’s School Leadership Academy, and in 2020 was named VECA principal.
“I have been fortunate to serve with two phenomenal transformational leaders,” says Marshall in reference to Ingrid Hall and Dr. Mae McKinney, former VECA principals. “As a result of being under their tutelage, I am able to utilize the skills I gleaned from them and try my best to continue what has been started at VECA.”
Wanting to leave a legacy for his family and VECA students, Marshall says, “I am a believer that everyone is placed on earth for a reason. We all have a mission, a ministry that we are supposed to manifest while we are here on earth. Education is a pathway for us to acquire the skills to fulfill our legacy.”
Marshall is married to Dr. Marci Garner Marshall, an educator with Valdosta City School.