John H. McRaeâ€™s, â€™71, â€™75 and â€™83, list of accomplishments in education are many. He was the first Valdosta State University graduate to be selected as Georgia Teacher of the Year (TOTY); he earned the honor in 1978, after only six years of experience. Also in 1978, McRae was named Valdosta State Collegeâ€™s Outstanding Alumni. He served as president of the VSU Alumni Association for two separate terms. He has also served many times as state TOTY judge for the Georgia Department of Education.
In recent years, McRae has become the first educator invited to join the Board of Directors of the Georgia Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. A public interest law center, Georgia Appleseed seeks to increase justice in the state and promote systemic change through law and policy reform. It uses the skills of hundreds of volunteer lawyers, educators, and other professionals on projects addressing difficult social justice problems in Georgia, focused on access to justice, public education, and economic security and public safety. McRae brings a long record of educational leadership and innovation to the board, as well as valuable knowledge of southern Georgia communities and needs.
McRaeâ€™s well-recognized dedication to public education spans many roles and agencies. He was honored as one of 147 Georgia High Performing Principals in 2006 in recognition of three years of high student achievement. He was an assistant professor in the College of Education at Georgia Southern University from 1990 to 1992 and the director of the Georgia Department of Human Resourcesâ€™ Student Assistance Program from 1992 to 1994.
McRae credits his time at VSC in helping him to become an exceptional educator.
â€œI had professors that did more than teach at VSC,â€ he said. â€œThey motivated, guided, and modeled what is was to want to be a great educator. Dr. Willa Shovar taught me how to think outside the box, Dr. Helen Thornton how to think critically and speak on your feet, and Dr. Ernestine Clark how to be a true educational leader, not just a principal.â€
John H. McRae and his wife, Marcia, ’70, attended the 2012 VSU Gala.
McRae began his career in administration in 1979 as principal at S.L. Mason School in Valdosta. He retired in 2005 from the Decatur County School System where he was principal of John Johnson School. He then became coordinator of the Two Rivers Migrant Education Agency of the Georgia Department of Education from 2005 to 2007 and then an instructor at Bainbridge College for Arts and Sciences and Technical Studies, retiring in 2011 with the rank of assistant professor. McRae is currently is teaching part time for Albany State University at their new Cairo site.
In 2009, McRae was instrumental in helping Georgia Appleseed pilot a Carnegie Communications Grant-funded immigrant community inclusion project in the Bainbridge area called â€œWelcoming Georgia.â€ He continues to advise on education projects and other efforts. McRae is married to the Rev. Marcia Owens McRae, â€˜70, an Episcopal priest serving in the Diocese of Georgia.