From Staff Reports
MEMPHIS, TN — Shelby County will soon have a director of education to be a liaison between the mayor, county commissioners, school board members and their superintendents.
Dr. Cedrick Gray, who starts Jan. 7, was appointed Dec. 19 by Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris to a position previously known as education liaison, but Harris says Gray will have greater responsibility.
“In this leadership role, Dr. Gray will do more than just work with the commission on budgeting,” Harris said. “He is the right person to improve education from pre-K to workforce development.”
Gray has considerable experience leading school systems. He’s now executive director of the Principal Supervisors Program of New Leaders which provides school-based coaching and leadership development. It visits schools to observe, coach, and provide feedback for principals.
“My goal is to expand and support pre-K and early childhood programs, school facility investment, and college and career readiness for our youth,” Gray said. He endorses collaboration to “share best practices across all school systems.”
His appointment was well-received by local leaders.
“Dr. Gray’s background as an educator, school leader, and superintendent will be invaluable in building strong relationships across Shelby County,” said County Commissioner Michael Whaley, chairman of the commission’s education committee. “We have a unique opportunity to be a leader in how we define educational success, and how we convene multiple stakeholders toward a common goal of ensuring equity and opportunity for every student in Shelby County.”
Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson complimented Gray’s experience, calling him a proven student-centered leader. “Dr. Gray’s external and statewide relationships will be key assets as Mayor Harris looks to strengthen his collaboration with all school districts in Shelby County.”
Gray attended Memphis City Schools and the University of Memphis.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to return back to my community what it invested in me,” Gray said. “I am looking forward to working in the multifaceted educational landscape of our county.”
Former Memphis Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson worked with Gray for over 10 years; “Dr. Gray is very talented and loves Memphis. We are fortunate to have him here to do work that links together county initiatives with public education.”
Gray began his career in Memphis and served as principal of Lester Pre-K-8 and Craigmont Middle School. He’s been superintendent of Fayette County Schools as well as Jackson, Miss. Public Schools where he increased the graduation rate 9 percent in four years while decreasing the dropout rate. The National Association of School Superintendents named him Superintendent of the Year for 2016.
“Dr. Gray is innovative, data-driven, and an expert on working with educators for the best possible outcomes for children and young adults,” Harris said.