Dr. Joris M. Ray was voted unanimously by the Shelby County School Board on April 30, 2019 to become Superintendent of Shelby County Schools (SCS). With more than 100,000 students in over 200 schools, SCS is the largest school district in Tennessee, second largest employer in Shelby County, and one of the 25 largest public-school districts in the nation. The District operates with a fiscal budget of nearly $1.5 billion annually to uphold its commitment to improving learning and academic achievement for students.
Dr. Ray is a product of Shelby County Schools (Whitehaven High School) and has a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from The University of Memphis. He is a 2019 graduate of the Harvard Institute for Superintendents as well as the 2017 Atlantic Research Partners’ National Superintendents Academy.
Dr. Ray's motto for all children is “Dream, Stand, Believe, and Achieve with Courage.” He has been instrumental in improving the lives and academic futures of thousands of Shelby County Schools students, no matter which neighborhood they call home. Dr. Ray’s public education investment is indicative of his forward-thinking attitude and strong sense of responsibility to ensure the development of productive citizens for the future of Memphis and Shelby County.
Dr. Ray has diligently served the District for 22 years in the roles of Chief of Academic Operations and School Support, Assistant Superintendent of Academic Operations and School Support, Director of Alternative Schools, coordinator (principal), assistant principal and teacher. He has played a critical role in building a culture of success in the multi-faceted landscape of the District’s operations. His leadership has encompassed several specialized areas that work in concert to aid in the streamlining of strong operational practices and academic equity to provide critical support to schools and central office administration. Under his direction, the Parent Welcome Center, created to improve customer service, has become a central location for families in need of bilingual assistance and information on District services and programs. Employees are on-hand to quickly respond to parent concerns. In addition, he has continued to be instrumental in the success of the Alternative Education Program, which offers a non-traditional path to success designed to meet the educational, behavioral, and social needs of students. He pioneered work in this area which transformed the approach of the Alternative Schools Program creating a long-lasting impact.
Dr. Ray received a distinguished appointment by Governor Phil Bredesen to the Governor's Advisory Council on Alternative Education, where he served from 2006 until 2014. He was also honored as an inductee to the University of Memphis College of Education and Health Sciences Hall of Fame. In addition, Dr. Ray has been the recipient of countless awards and accolades for his illustrious career accomplishments, including: the 2019 University of Memphis Black Alumni Association Outstanding Alumnus, the Living Legend Award presented by the State of Tennessee House of Representatives, the “Outstanding Young Educator Award” by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), for which he was featured in Educational Leadership Publication; and the 2016 “Friend of Education Award” from the Memphis Shelby County Education Association (MSCEA).
Dr. Ray is a lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (Kappa Beta Chapter) and he continues to contribute to the organization’s continuous efforts to support local youth by mentoring the young men of that chapter on the campus of the University of Memphis.