VALDOSTA – Dr. Johnnie Marshall, Valdosta Early College Academy assistant principal, was surprised to the recipient of the Milken Educator Award Thursday morning.

Called the “Oscars of Teaching” by Teacher magazine, Milken Educators are selected based on their achievements and for a promise of what they will accomplish. The honor comes with an unrestricted $25,000 prize, public recognition and membership in the National Milken Educator Network.

While there will be up to 40 nominees for 2019-20, Marshall is the only winner from Georgia this year.

According to a Milken Educator Awards press release, Marshall offers a helping hand of high technology coupled with gritty, down-to-earth sensibility. Marshall set up a 1:1 device initiative through Valdosta State University several years ago and helped get iPads and Macs into the hands of every VECA student. Teachers also attend Marshall's professional learning sessions "Appy Hours" to stay up to date with the latest educational applications. 

In addition to numerous local city, county and school officials, Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley and Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods were present to give the award.

“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,” Woods said. “He is eminently deserving of this honor and I'm grateful to the Milken Family Foundation for recognizing this outstanding Georgia educator.”

Upon hearing he'd been given the award, Marshall was greeted with cheers and applause from all his students as he stood, shocked, to receive his check.

“I am so grateful that the good Lord gave me this opportunity to go into the field of education. I truly believe this is my calling,” Marshall said. “In accepting this, I give this back to everything that Valdosta Early College Academy, Valdosta State, Valdosta City Schools has done to have this program in existence.”

Desiree Carver is a reporter at the Valdosta Daily Times. She can be reached at (229) 244-3400 ext. 1215.

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