December Teacher Spotlight: Mr. Marley

Deepika Joshi

Mr. Marley has been an English and Journalism teacher at Centreville High School for the past 3 years. He is also an alumni of Centreville High School; he graduated in 2001. He has seen many changes since his time here as a student:  “I’ve given this a lot of thought. In many ways, it is much the same building (if a bit weathered by the 20 years that have passed since my Freshman year). What I think is missing from the CVHS of today, though, is the sense of community. When I went here, there was very much a feeling among the students and staff that we were building something; that we were all working toward some amazing thing, and that we were close to achieving it. Today, I don’t feel that same sense of belongingness and community on a large scale. We certainly might have it in some classrooms, or clubs, or teams — but the school at large feels less connected.”

Inspirational, motivational, and enjoyable are the three words many of Mr. Marley’s students say when asked about the environment of his classroom. Sydney Brobbey, one of his current students, says, “He is a very insightful person, funny and honest and has helped me solidify my decision in pursuing an English degree.” He truly has a friendly personality that allows him to create the bond with students that is important for both teachers and students. When asked about his favorite part of working in school he said, “The relationships. I’m all about people, and I place a high value on connecting with my students, my fellow teachers, and my administrators. Developing those relationships ensures that every day is going to be a positive experience.” When asked “what advice do you have for kids who are focusing to further their studies in the journalism and English field?”, he responded by saying students focused in the journalism field to “Get pushy. Journalism is all about contacts, and access. You need to get the best information before anyone else. That often relies on having good sources for inside information, and convincing those sources to give that information you before they give it to anyone else. Be confident, be aggressive, be thorough, and have integrity.” For students who plan on furthering their study in English, he advised that they should “Write. Write every day. Schedule time, if you have to, but take time every day to write, and to reflect on your writing. Also read. Read every day. Schedule time, if you have to, but take time every day to read, and to reflect on your reading.” His passion for English and teaching is clearly seen through his ongoing effort in flourishing students to do their best as they are preparing for the real world after high school.

Mr. Marley is a very fascinating teacher with many hobbies that people do know. As to what might surprise people about him, he stated that “Judging by the reactions I get, I think the most surprising thing about me is that teaching English at Centreville High School is my life’s dream. Given that I have had so many jobs, and lived so many lives, students are always mystified by the fact that this is where I always wanted to end up. I’ve made movies and television, built houses, worked in kitchens, managed businesses, consulted, played in bands — and of all of these, teaching English at Centreville High School is the occupation I would choose every time.” His experiences, passions, and his personality has aided students in not only in gaining knowledge, but also advice for their struggles, internships, and many more.  When asked what the greatest challenge he has had to over come, Mr. Marley mentioned he’s sure that “…There are many, but I find that a challenge in retrospect often doesn’t seem as challenging. Once overcome, a challenge simply becomes a time when something was learned.” When asked about who his biggest inspiration is, he stated that he has “been inspired by so many. As a literary thinker, Kurt Vonnegut is my inspiration, surely. I often find inspiration from different sources, though, depending on the passion, hobby, or activity. Today, most of my inspiration comes from my son. All the strength I have, I have for him.” As he had various jobs before teaching, he was asked to talk about his favorite job thus far, which he mentioned that “Honestly, although it seems silly, but my favorite job was kitchen work. I found cooking to be relaxing. I worked in kitchens through most of college, and that work ended up being a perfect companion for an intensive college curriculum. Because my brain was usually fried after a long day of classes, it was nice to be able to “tune out’ and cook 300 burgers on a Friday night. I also enjoyed construction work, and for similar reasons, but with the added benefit of being able to stand back and appreciate a “job well done” at the end of the day.” His experiences truly brings out the uniqueness of his personality as a teacher.

He had lived in New York before permanently moving to Virginia and when asked about “how he finds living in Virginia and New York to be different,” his response was, “Interesting question. I have so many complex feelings about both places. In some ways, my feelings toward both locales are overwhelmingly nostalgic. In other ways, I am undoubtedly jaded. What I love about New York are its mythic proportions. New York is a metaphor to the entire world — an abstract notion of hope, teeming with metropolitan monoliths that stand as monuments to the grandiosity of its collected dreams. I was exposed to so much culture and art in New York that was otherwise completely foreign to me. My time there was foundational to who I am today. Conversely, what I love about Virginia is its versatility. No matter where you live in Virginia, you are, at most, a few hours’ drive away from anything you could want possibly want. New York, by comparison, offered an extremely limited landscape.” Although he finds both places great to live, when asked, “ What is your favorite family vacation destination?” he answered, “Lake Anna, Virginia. I love the lake, and everything about it. Sitting near the water, playing my guitar, singing to the sunset while my son swims nearby — that’s my happy place.”

Mr. Marley is a person who has held many jobs before, has been a student at CVHS, plays guitar, pushes students to reach their capability, and enjoys spending time with his family. He is an excellent teacher who frequently engages students in discussions and also allows the students to see the many path there is in life through his experience. He truly is an inspiration to many students as he helps them to realize their fullest potential.