Alumni profile – Joe Martin: “The Educator Motivator”

When Joe Martin Jr., a 1990 communications arts graduate of UWF, was 17, he devised a 33-year plan for his future. Though his career reflects little of what was outlined in his original plan, he is not complaining.

He would not complain anyway – he’s a motivational speaker.

For the past eight years, Martin, based in Tallahassee, has been traveling the country speaking to students and teachers about education. He’s written nine books and the titles include, “When Students Just Won’t Listen,” “Tricks of the Grade,” “Stop Parenting and Start Coaching” and “Good Teachers Never Quit.”

He calls himself “the educator motivator.”

“The term ‘motivational speaker’ is such a general term. When people ask me what I do, I tell them I make sure good teachers don’t quit and that great students don’t drop out,” he said. Teacher retention and student success-oriented themes dominate his talks and his books. His speaking engagements include school districts and teacher groups as well as high school and college campuses. On average, his schedule takes him to between 60 and 80 cities a year.

Martin calls upon his years growing up in a tough inner-city ghetto, Liberty City, in Miami, his college experience and his years as an educator to help deliver a positive message to all sides of the education experience, from elementary school students to college students to parents, teachers and administrators. For example, he shows teachers different ways to gain control of their classrooms as well as their careers.

Over the years as a speaker, he has changed his focus but still incorporates his life’s story. As a UWF student, he spoke to church groups and student groups. As a Florida A&M professor, he was invited frequently to speak elsewhere, as an invited paid speaker, primarily at college campuses. But now his itinerary is filled with school districts. Over the years, he said he realized students attending college already had overcome major obstacles just getting there, but students in elementary, middle and high schools were still dealing with major issues outside the classroom that were directly impacting their performance inside. He felt he could have a stronger impact there.

How does Martin define success? “I define success as using my God-given gifts to achieve God-given goals and teaching others to do the same. I want to motivate and inspire others to live their purpose, to teach others to use their God-given gifts to serve others. When I’m doing that, I’m successful. When I’m not, I’m not successful.”

For more information on Joe Martin, visit his Web site; follow him on Twitter at; or on Facebook at

By Susie Forrester, University Marketing Communications