Hometown Heroes: Teacher Bradford Martin “Marty” Irwin

We at Lazenby Law Group readily recognize that heroes come in all sorts of packages.

We honor fallen soldiers, first responders, and those that protect us, our freedoms and our liberties.  Equally important are those that shape our future. 

Teacher “Marty” Irwin

In shaping our future, perhaps none are more important and more deserving of recognition than our children’s teachers.  From the smallest of communities, to the entire world, day in and day out teachers quite literally determine the course of our future through our children.  Most assuredly, great teachers are never forgotten, but rarely, appropriately recognized.  Today, Lazenby Law Group recognizes North Hall Middle School Teacher MARTY IRWIN as our Hometown Hero.

Bradford Martin (“Marty”) Irwin grew up in a small Mississippi Delta town in Tallahatchie County known as Charleston, Mississippi.  Just an hour and a half south of Memphis and two and half north of Jackson, with a population just shy of 3,000, Charleston doesn’t have much notoriety outside of being the site of Mississippi’s largest earthquake in 1931 and the current home of Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman.  Charleston’s small town values helped propel Marty into teaching and certainly contributed to his rise to North Hall Middle School’s reigning Teacher of the Year.

When we got to know Marty, it became clear he shares our sentiment as to how a hero should be defined.  Marty grew up most admiring his grandmother:  Hortense Champion.  We could not describe his admiration for his Grandmother (“Ma”) any better than did he: 

My parents passed away at a young age for me. My mother died when I was 14 in 1999 from a car accident and my father passed in 2003 when I was 18 from a heavy equipment accident. During hard times for me, my Ma became my rock and never passed an opportunity to show me love. Sometimes tough love, but love nonetheless. She worked hard and was always there for me, my two sisters, and her community. I strive each day to be the man she wanted me to be and to be just half the great person she was.

We are certain the great fortune of having a fine person like Marty in our community is owed to Ms. Champion.

Marty continued to impress us with his views of admirable folks when he spoke of another great influence on his upbringing.  Second to Ma, Marty holds Fred “Mr.” Rogers in high regard.  Undoubtedly a huge influence on Marty’s ability to relate to our children, Marty most appreciates Mr. Rogers’ ability to communicate with kids around the world he never met . . . [h]e was a gentle and kind person and I wanted to be like that when I grew up.”  

Kristin Finley, North Hall Middle’s Principal, shared this about Marty:

“Marty has a personality that draws people in and makes it feel like you’ve always known one another.” She went on, “[h]e brings science to life for students and challenges them to perform at their best.” Summing our conversation up, Mrs. Finley added, “He devotes his time and energy to making our community a better place.” Marty has certainly invoked the spirit of Mr. Rogers.

True heroes never become the people they are without a healthy appreciation for the people that continue to shape them.  Marty is no exception.  Marty is married to his beautiful wife, Jade, and has three wonderful children: 

  • Jenna (10),

  • Henry (8), and

  • Ben (3). 

Undoubtedly the result of his youthful affinity for sports, Marty’s children prepare for their futures by embracing discipline and teamwork virtues.  Jenna is a softballer and Henry is a basketball and football Jr. Trojan.  The Irwins attend Northeast Georgia Church of Christ in Cleveland.

Entering his second decade of teaching, Marty is now an 8th Grade Physical Science Teacher at NHMS.  He is also the BLaST leader for the middle school, meaning he leads a team that deals with:

  • blended learning,

  • the school’s learning management system (Canvas), and

  • any new school technology. 

While Marty clearly loves his job, one he describes as the “best on the planet,” his future aspirations are certainly important.  Marty intends to teach for a “good, long while,” but also sees school administration in his future.  Given the importance of the roles our educators play in shaping the future of our nation, quite literally, we certainly hope Marty lives out his dreams.

We asked Marty about two significant subject areas:

1) common misconceptions about the schools in the North Hall Community he’d love to correct and

2) the most rewarding aspect of his job. 

True to his character, Marty responded with discussions centered around his relationships with his students.  His compassion for his students and corresponding emotional support was most impressive. 

To the former question, Marty recognizes the misconception that affluency pervades the entire North Hall Community.  Marty expressed how many NHMS students live right at or below the poverty line.  In response, our teachers and educators often take matters into their own hands with purchases and borrowing for equity and to make ends meet in the classroom.  Admirable.

To the latter question, expressing the most rewarding aspect of his job was difficult for Marty as his “. . . job offers so many rewarding features . . . [i]f I had to pick just one rewarding aspect it would be the relationships I build with my students.”

We also asked Marty for some parental advice from a Teacher’s perspective:

We live in a fast paced world and nowadays as parents we push our children to grow up way too fast. . . . [My] advice would be to not let them grow up too fast and let them be kids while they still can. I would keep them free from the pressures of social media until their little minds could handle the information that is being given to them.

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