‘Not easily replaced’: Marietta teacher killed in Atlanta was a mentor to many

Jason Ogbomoh, a teacher at Marietta Middle School, died in a shooting Sunday near Underground Atlanta.

Credit: Marietta City Schools

Credit: Marietta City Schools

Jason Ogbomoh, a teacher at Marietta Middle School, died in a shooting Sunday near Underground Atlanta.

Jason Ogbomoh’s desk was left littered with sticky notes from his students requesting various snacks when he left work Nov. 10.

It was a familiar sight, as he regularly stocked up on his kids’ favorite foods so they could munch away during class. Marietta Middle School principal Diona Brown said Ogbomoh was always going out of his way to give back to his students.

“He connected with kids in ways that was just very admirable to everyone,” Brown told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday, just days after Ogbomoh was killed in a shooting near Underground Atlanta.

Around 3 a.m. Sunday, Atlanta police found the 25-year-old near 81 Peachtree Street with multiple gunshot wounds. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition and eventually died. Officers said that a fight appeared to have preceded the gunfire, and the shooter ran away.

Brown found out her educator had been killed just a few hours later from a friend of Ogbomoh’s family. She immediately called her school’s resource officer to confirm the news. She said she didn’t want to believe that he was gone.

When Brown met Ogbomoh just over two years ago at a job fair in Atlanta, she said she was immediately impressed. She had just gotten the job at the school and Ogbomoh was one of her first hires. She described him as charismatic and passionate about uplifting students.

“It was important for him to make an impact on students that looked like him, because he did not have many Black male teachers in his life,” Brown said. “He wanted to be a role model for students. To be able to see someone like himself and be able to aspire to something bigger than the community around them.”

Ogbomoh graduated in 2020 from the University of Georgia with a major in biology and a concentration in neuroscience. He taught six sections of computer science at Marietta Middle while also pursuing a master’s degree in computer science from Georgia State University.

Brown said she is working to find someone to teach Ogbomoh’s classes, but the task hasn’t been simple.

“He’s not easily replaced. It’s been a challenge to even think about who could fill that position because he was more than just a computer science and coding teacher,” she explained.

Though only at the school for a short time, Ogbomoh contributed an immeasurable amount, Brown said. He led the Technology Student Association and took students to competitions, was working to incorporate Esports into his elective classes, planned to develop his curriculum to eventually offer computer science as a year-long course, and would often give his own food to students.

It’s not uncommon for teachers at the middle school to serve as mentors to their students, but Brown said Ogbomoh was unique. He had countless children who looked up to him and regularly went to him for guidance.

One particular student who was struggling in his personal life became especially close to Ogbomoh, according to Brown. That student told Brown a few days after the shooting that he felt as if he lost his big brother.

“He took the time out of his schedule every single day to check in with this young man and to set goals with him and to try to make sure that he was on track both academically and behaviorally,” Brown said.

Funeral plans have not been finalized, and Brown said the school is still considering ways they will memorialize their adored teacher. She explained that the days since his death have been exceptionally difficult as students, staff and herself grieve.

“It was really hard as principal to watch my students in pain and watch them going down the hallway with just massive tears in their eyes knowing I couldn’t do anything to fix it,” she said.