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 and sponsors student-led digital media competitions among grade levels 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 help them in their future studies.
Marshall inspires and supports 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 and 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 around the world. 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 students use and share techniques parents can use 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.
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