Music Monday: Shannon Marshall

April 16, 2018 | Article and photos for Week of the Young Child™ by Kim Thomason, Virginia Quality
Shannon Marshall | Child Development Center for Learning and Research at Virginia Tech | Montgomery County, VA

Music Monday’s spotlight professional, Shannon Marshall, began her teaching career working with young children in a before/after school program.  She soon realized that she was passionate about establishing new relationships with young children and their families.  Her program eventually opened a pre-school and she was able to supplement her hours during the day by working there. This experience allowed Shannon to interact and be engaged with children during their very early years of development. Shannon was inspired by their natural curiosity, their competence and the genuine joy that was experienced while learning through play.

Shannon’s next step in her teaching journey was joining the teaching team at the Child Development Center for Learning and Research at Virginia Tech. She quickly embraced the school’s inspiration for curriculum, Reggio Emilia, and the opportunities it provides for children to learn with a process-focused approach while exploring their interests and questions with open-ended materials.

Shannon firmly believes that each child expresses his/her understanding of their world through process-focused and play-based learning opportunities. She provides experiences for the children to use multiple methods (or languages) to construct their knowledge around concepts. Music is one of the many languages that children use to express themselves.

A 2016 study at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute found that musical experiences in childhood can actually accelerate brain development, particularly in the areas of language acquisition and reading skills.

Shannon uses music to provide opportunities to promote literacy, develop fine and gross motor skills, and improve eye-hand coordination. Shannon teaches many children who are learning English as a second language or as their first language. She uses learning experiences through music to celebrate diversity and culture within her classroom.

For one long-term classroom project, Shannon integrated literacy with music, culture, and self-identity as they explored a book titled The Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle. The children read the book, constructed their own drums, and became inspired by the character’s courage in the book. The success Shannon has had with using music along with play-based learning has inspired her to seek her graduate degree in English as a Second Language and Multicultural Education.

Shannon is a teacher at a Virginia Quality center, focused on high quality care and kindergarten readiness. By voluntarily joining Virginia Quality, early learning programs show their staff, families and community that they are committed to quality education for young children. To learn more about Virginia Quality and United Way’s other Childhood Success initiatives, visit

<- Back to series overview and story listing


This story is part of United Way of Southwest Virginia’s spotlight series highlighting five professionals in our Virginia Quality network during the 2018 Week of the Young Child™. Annually, during this week, we recognize the importance of early learning and early literacy and celebrate the providers who bring early childhood education to young children. Through the five stories we will publish this week, you will see the investment these professionals are making in the lives of our children – teaching them to create, problem-solve, engage, and celebrate – and preparing tomorrow’s workforce for the next steps in their journey from cradle to career in Southwest Virginia. To read other stories in this Week of the Young Child™ spotlight series, visit

United Way of Southwest Virginia fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia because they are the building blocks for a good quality of life. Through an initiative-based cradle-to-career approach, United Way of Southwest Virginia is creating sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing tomorrow’s workforce. United Way convenes cross-sector partners to make an impact on the most complex problems in our region. Through collaboration with government, business, nonprofit and individuals, United Way innovates for positive, lasting social change. With a footprint that covers almost 15% of the state of Virginia, United Way of Southwest Virginia serves Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington and Wise, and the cities of Galax and Norton. For more information about United Way of Southwest Virginia, visit

Week of the Young Child™, sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), is an opportunity for early childhood programs across the country, including child care and Head Start programs, preschools, and elementary schools, to hold activities to bring awareness to the needs of young children. For more information and inspiration on how you can celebrate Week of the Young Child™, visit