With some of his relatives standing behind her at the lectern Monday evening, East Columbus Magnet Academy principal Tamura Magwood explained to the Muscogee County School Board why the Columbus middle school wants its football field to be named after the late John “Pepper” Spurlock Jr.
“I have with me the wonderful family of Dr. Pepper Spurlock, and it was a pleasure working with him for the two years that we were together,” Magwood said. “He was a fighter. He was a trooper. And he loved EC Magnet.”
Naming the football field after Spurlock would be a “living legacy of all the things he did for the students, faculty and staff and community.”
Spurlock finished 16 years at ECMA as assistant principal before he died in October at Midtown Medical Center, according to his obituary. He was 42.
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No cause of death was given. Muscogee County School District human resources chief Kathy Tessin told the Ledger-Enquirer in August 2016 that Spurlock left ECMA to deal with a medical issue.
According to his obituary and his resume, Spurlock grew up in Fortson and graduated from Grace Christian School of Columbus in 1993. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Georgia in 1998, a master’s degree in middle grades science and social studies from Columbus State University in 2004, a specialist’s degree in educational leadership from CSU in 2007 and a doctorate in educational leadership from Valdosta State University in 2014.
Spurlock started his career in 1999 at Harris County Carver Middle School. He taught seventh-grade science and language arts. He was head coach of the wrestling and freshman baseball teams and an assistant coach for the football and varsity baseball teams.
In 2001, Spurlock moved to ECMA, where he taught sixth-grade social studies before becoming assistant principal in 2008. He was head wrestling coach at adjacent Kendrick High School (2001-06), and at ECMA he was head boys basketball coach (2006-07), wrestling club sponsor (2004-07), head track coach (2006), assistant track coach (2004-05) and assistant football coach (2001-07). He also started and sponsored the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes club.
In the community, Spurlock served as a deacon, musician and youth leadership team member at Piney Grove Baptist Church in Fortson, a volunteer coach for Upward Basketball and a Georgia High School Association baseball umpire and wrestling referee.
During the Feb. 20 meeting, starting at 6 p.m., the school board is scheduled to vote on superintendent David Lewis’ recommendation to approve ECMA’s request.