Valdosta City School District

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VCS Milken Educator Recognized at GaDOE Board Meeting

He was recognized during a December board meeting of the Georgia Department of Education.

About Milken Educator Dr. Johnnie Marshall

Every student at Georgia's Valdosta Early College Academy (VECA) works with an iPad or MacBook from sixth grade to high school graduation, thanks to Assistant Principal Dr. Johnnie Marshall. He set up the 1:1 device initiative through a partnership with Valdosta State University (VSU) several years ago. Marshall stays on top of technology and application updates, trains students and teachers, organizes distribution of the devices, and leads a team of student techies to keep the devices charged, synced and updated. Teachers attend "Appy Hours," Marshall's professional learning sessions, to keep up to date on the latest educational applications. Because of the program's demonstrated improvement in student achievement, hundreds more iPads have been purchased for other schools in the district. Marshall helps seniors develop digital portfolios to showcase their high school experiences and post-secondary goals during college signing day celebrations. He also sponsors student-led digital media competitions during National Early College Week. In a school where sixth-graders arrive lagging their peers academically and with risk factors for high school graduation, seniors leave with at least one year of dual-enrollment college credit and scholarships to support their future studies. 

Marshall inspires and uplifts teachers as well as students. He serves as VECA's instructional leader, monitoring academic achievement and providing professional development to help teachers address any gaps. Marshall serves as the school's public relations coordinator and sits on the district's strategic planning committee as well as the dean's advisory board at VSU's College of Education and Human Services. An Apple Distinguished Educator, Marshall has trained teachers on using technology in the classroom at conferences worldwide. He was chosen to participate in the Governor's School Leadership Academy Aspiring Principals Program and teaches future educators at VSU. 

Inspiring, engaging and contagiously upbeat, Marshall lives VECA's core values of building relationships with students, parents and teachers. He knows every student by name and has an exceptional impact on the school's young men, encouraging, motivating and investing in them. As VECA's parent and family engagement coordinator, Marshall collaborates with the school to develop their Parent and Family Engagement Plan and oversees the Title I Parent Involvement Program. Special classes and training sessions familiarize parents with the technology that students use, sharing techniques that parents can employ at home to support their children's studies. In addition to coordinating VECA's STEM initiatives, science fair, robotics program and annual eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C., Marshall serves as the school's Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) coach. A deeply caring educator committed to giving back to his community and following the example of those who invested in him, Marshall has provided food, clothing and shoes for students who lacked resources, and constant love and support for students with turbulent lives outside school. 

Marshall earned a bachelor's in middle grades education in 2010, a master's in middle grades education in 2013 and a doctorate in educational leadership in 2018, all from Valdosta State University. 

More information about Marshall, plus links to photos and a video from today's assembly, can be found on the Milken Educator Awards website at

Milken Educators are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. In addition to the $25,000 prize and public recognition, the honor includes membership in the National Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,700 top teachers, principals, and specialists dedicated to strengthening education. 

In addition to participation in the Milken Educator Network, 2019-20 recipients will attend a Milken Educator Forum in Indianapolis from March 26-28, 2020 where they will network with their new colleagues and exchange ideas with state and federal leaders on the future of education. In addition, the Milken Educator Awards' "Why Not Us" program will pair each 2019-20 recipient with a veteran Milken Educator mentor to explore and prepare for expanded leadership roles that strengthen education practice and policy.

More than $140 million in funding, including $70 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the overall Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients' careers. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees.

The Awards alternate yearly between elementary and secondary educators. Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Award is completely unique: Educators cannot apply for this recognition and do not even know they are under consideration. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then are reviewed by blue ribbon panels appointed by state departments of education. Those most exceptional are recommended for the Award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation.

The cash award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways; for instance, on their children's or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even on the adoption of children.

To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Everyone is encouraged to watch the tour at and

For more information, visit or call MFF at (310) 570-4772.

About the Milken Educator Awards

The very first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. The Awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.