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JCPS 2020 Living Legends gave more than 100 years of service

Johnston County Public Schools named three former educators, Sandra Edwards, Shelly Marsh, and Valerie Carpenter, as the 2020 Living Legend Award recipients.

The Living Legend Award is presented to former Johnston County Public Schools educators who were dedicated to the children they taught and left a legacy of influential teaching styles.

This year’s honorees were recognized at the December Johnston County Board of Education meeting. The combined careers of the Living Legend Award recipients spanned more than 100 years serving in Johnston County Public Schools.

Sandra Edwards is a graduate of Smithfield-Selma High School, Peace College, East Carolina University, and Campbell University. She served the students of Johnston County Public Schools for more than 35 years and continues to serve as a tutor.

While at South Smithfield Elementary, Edwards was an integral part of the lives of peers and students. Perhaps most memorably as the End of Grade Princess, bringing positivity and encouragement to third, fourth, and fifth grade students, a role that former students still recognize her for today.

“Having students recognize me as the EOG Princess makes me feel like a celebrity, but the shiny crown and musical wand are just material things,” said Edwards. “The students and teachers are the ones who put in the hard work each year, and I am simply the one to remind them to let their brain shine and show what they know.”

Edwards’s community involvement includes Delta Kappa Gamma Sorority, Parent Advisory Committee, and the Junior Women's League.

Shelley Marsh served Johnston County Public Schools in many roles in his 47-year career, from teacher to Deputy Superintendent. He is a graduate of North Carolina A&T University and East Carolina University.

Marsh's many honors include being inducted into the Johnston County Athletic Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Athletic Directors Hall of Fame, and the North Carolina High School Athletic Hall of Fame. He was also awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor Mike Easley.

He and his wife Janis have two daughters and two granddaughters. The Marsh family is active in their church where Marsh has served as a steward for many years.

Marsh stated that his philosophy about education is that effective teachers contribute to the growth and development of every student physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, morally, and spiritually. He believes that every student is gifted and can be a contributing member of society and that the effective teacher inspires and motivates all students to reach their full potential.

Valerie Carpenter is a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and a founding member of the Clayton High School Alumni Association. Carpenter taught at Clayton High, and as the Chair of the Foreign Language Department, she sponsored several trips abroad.

As a dynamic member of the United Methodist Church, she continues to serve in many roles including several mission trips to Haiti. Carpenter was honored in 2003 as the Clayton Citizen of the Year.

“I have been richly blessed for the 29 years I've lived, taught, grown, served, and been served by the people of Johnston County,” said Carpenter.