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This year’s Florida Education Innovator of the Year recipient, Lea Marshall (no relation to JMI Founder Dr. Marshall) teaches drama at Leon High School in Tallahassee. Long known for her creative spirit and keen wit, Mrs. Marshall pulled off an amazing pivot when COVID-19 closed down in-person classes last spring. She launched an online contest that not only amused and engaged her Leon High students, but elicited participation from many parents, townspeople, former students, and homeschoolers.


Join us for a Zoom webinar on Wednesday, January 27 at 7 p.m. where we will hear all about Mrs. Marshall’s innovative response to the pandemic and her ongoing creativity in the classroom.


We are also pleased to announce our main speaker for the evening, Rep. Chris Latvala, current Chair for the Education & Employment Committee. House Speaker Chris Sprowls recast the committee structure for the subject, establishing a single panel to oversee everything from early education through workforce training, with three subcommittees reporting to that overarching one. To run the show, he picked Rep. Chris Latvala from Pinellas County who led the chamber’s PreK-12 appropriations committee the past two cycles.

Latvala said the topic is near and dear to him, and he anticipated seeing legislation to “expand literacy, especially in under-served communities.” Chair Latvala has also reiterated his strong support for school choice. “It’s not a secret that I’m pro-voucher and I’m pro-giving students more options,” he said.

We look forward to having him speak as we honor JMI Founder and Past-President, Dr. Stanley Marshall, and recognize Mrs. Lea Marshall for her achievements during this past year, which presented many challenges to Florida’s teachers.

Tampa Bay Times; Pinellas Rep. Chris Latvala is state House’s new leader on education; Author Jeffrey Solochek

Lea Marshall – 2021 Florida Education Innovator of the Year

Lea Noblin Marshall is a native Floridian and went to Maclay School (1st-12th grade) in Tallahassee where she learned to love stories, poetry, and words. Since she was a painfully shy elementary student, her parents enrolled her in the new Young Actors Theatre in Tallahassee. She learned the life-changing power of telling stories on stage and creating your character to live life fully. She is the wife of Adam Marshall and they have three adult children, Millie (Pittsburgh), Maxx (Nashville), and Rosalea (Montreat College). She serves on The Village Square Board and is passionate about empathy and building relationships. 

While attending Furman University, she spent a semester abroad in Stratford & London studying Shakespeare and her life was forever changed by that experience. Her first play was published in 2020, “Shakespeare’s Bachelorette,” where she merges Shakespeare characters with pop culture and reality TV.

Lea has taught theater for preschoolers (Temple Israel, Tallahassee), elementary students (Gwinnett County, GA), middle school (Raa, Tallahassee), and now high school (Leon, Tallahassee).

Her life goal is to tell a more beautiful story & her favorite thing is an ampersand.

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