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Transforming lives in Martinsville and Henry County VA



During a tenure which spanned over forty years, Mrs. Johnson (1918-1990) taught English at Albert Harris High School and Martinsville High School. She was appointed Chair of the English Department at Martinsville High School, a position that she held from 1968-1980.

Many former students describe her as a talented and compassionate teacher who had a direct influence on their decision to enroll in college. They also attribute their success in college to the academic preparation they gained from their former teacher.

Born in 1918, in Jamaica, New York, Mrs. Johnson grew up on the campus of Hampton Institute (Hampton University), where her father was employed. She earned a bachelor’s degree there at a very young age. She went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in English from Cornell University. Mrs. Johnson also studied at Vassar College in New York and Williams College in Massachusetts. She was a recipient of the John Hay Fellowship in the Humanities.

Mrs. Johnson resided in Martinsville with her husband Dr. Marshall O. Johnson who owned a local dental practice. They were the parents of two daughters, Marsha J. Edlow and Karol A. Johnson.

In addition to her family, Mrs. Johnson was committed to community service. She served on the boards on Piedmont Arts Association, Memorial Hospital, Hospice, Safety Net, the Blue Ridge Public Library, FOCUS, and the Salvation Army. She was member of Grace Presbyterian Church, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, The Links, Estralitas, and Hampton University Alumni Association.

The Lula White Johnson Endowment

The Lula White Johnson Distinguished Teaching Award was established in 2010 in memory of Lula White Johnson, a beloved teacher in Martinsville, Virginia.

This endowment fund was initiated by Imogene and Isadore Draper, former students of Mrs. Johnson, who led a successful fundraising effort on behalf of MHC Academic Foundation to establish this award.

Students, faculty and staff at the New College Institute may nominate a faculty member who is intellectually stimulating, encourages the pursuit of higher education and is actively involved in enriching the lives of others through civic engagement and community service.

The award includes one-thousand dollars ($1,000) and an engraved plaque. A public forum will be held within one year at which time the recipient will present an educational topic of his/her choice.

Award Recipients

  • 2022 - Dr. Challen Mabry, Bluefield University
  • 2021 - Jenny Whittaker, Longwood University
  • 2020 - No winner due to Covid 
  • 2019 - Dr. Pamela Randall, Longwood University
  • 2018 - Dr. Nina Huff, Education, Longwood University
  • 2017 - Joan Rogers, Social Work, Longwood University
  • 2016 - Dr. David Martin,  Educational Leadership,  James Madison University
  • 2015 - Janie Brazier,  Social Work, Longwood University
  • 2014 - Dr. Coray Davis, Engineering Technology, Virginia State University
  • 2013 - Dr. Patricia Grant,  Criminal Justice, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • 2012 - Kimberly Fatten, Accounting, Virginia Commonwealth University
Distinguished Teaching Award Nomination Form