MEMPHIS, Tenn. — During Black History Month, we're taking a look at Memphians and what they're doing here in the Mid-South. Local 24 News Weeknight Anchor Katina Rankin is talking to the man that runs the largest school district in Tennessee. But just who is Dr. Joris Ray? Here's Dr. Ray in his own words.
"Joris Ray is a forever teacher. I'm a teacher first," said Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray.
Dr. Joris Ray started his career with Shelby County Schools as a teacher, then principal, next chief of academic operations and school support and now superintendent.
Dr. Ray is a lifelong Memphian, a product of the same school system he now runs, Shelby County Schools. He went to Whitehaven High School and earned a doctorate from the University of Memphis.
"Joris Ray is a change champion on behalf of students and his community. I want Memphis to be a great place to live," said Dr. Ray.
He admits running the school district during a pandemic has been tough. He's faced many critics for closing schools during the pandemic and keeping them closed until March 1st.
"As a leader you're going to make people upset from time to time, but as long as you continue to lead with students in mind, students in the forefront and just to ensure they get a world class education, I'm okay with critics," said Dr. Ray.
He took the helm of SCS back in April of 2019. His biggest challenge while being on the job?
"The challenge is always balancing your professional and personal life," said Dr. Ray.
Appearing a bit uptight talking about the pandemic woes and his critics, he finally let his guard down and began to breathe a little when he realized we truly just wanted to talk.
"When you're married to the work like I am, sometimes you tend to not take care of yourself as much. You're so busy giving of yourself and taking care of others, and you just wear yourself down," said Dr. Ray.
But through all of the hustle and bustle, Dr. Ray says he's learned a valuable lesson.
"Greatest lesson learned is you can't do it all in one day," said Dr. Ray.
And one day when this pandemic is over and he hangs up his education hat, here's how Ray wants to be remembered.
"I want to leave a legacy of live, love and ensuring that our students when they leave us, they leave knowing that someone cared and they leave us and go on to be productive citizens," said Dr. Ray.
In the meantime, Dr. Ray says his motto for all children is "Dream, Stand, Believe and Achieve with Courage.”
And he tells Weeknight Anchor Katina Rankin he will continue to lead the district with courage and children first on his mind despite the critics.