Dr. James Gray is a product of Louisiana public schools who has dedicated his career to helping children and educators bring out their best. In his 28th year as an educator, he’s worked his way up by serving as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and district administrator. Unanimously appointed superintendent in July 2020, Dr. Gray led Jefferson Parish Schools through the heart of the global pandemic and recovery from one of the most powerful hurricanes on record for Louisiana. Under his tenure, the district showed the largest growth on its state report card in the last 10 years.
Despite unprecedented circumstances, Dr. Gray’s first year as superintendent included remarkable milestones. Just one month into his tenure, JP Schools was among the first large school systems in the nation to reopen for in-person instruction. JP Schools became a one-to-one district for the first time, providing a device and connectivity for every student. The district developed an innovative summer enrichment program to combat learning loss, Jefferson Summer Bridge. Dr. Gray also led the launch of an early literacy strategic plan to ensure all students can read by the end of third grade. The Class of 2021 also set a new record by earning over 10,000 Industry Based Certifications. Thanks to the dedication of employees and fresh ideas to combat learning loss and move students forward, JP Schools’s 2022 District Performance Score increased 2.8 points, outpacing the state’s growth. In 2021, the district was one of only 20 Louisiana school systems to increase its District Performance Score.
Dr. Gray joined Jefferson Parish Schools in 2018 as Chief of Schools. He implemented a plan to deliver rich learning opportunities for students, built capacity in teachers, and develop school leaders. Under Dr. Gray’s leadership in the Teaching and Learning unit, JP Schools adopted a district-wide high-quality curriculum, created a Transformation Network to provide extra support and resources to high-need schools, and implemented a framework known as the Three Big Rocks to drive instructional practices in all schools across the district. These efforts resulted in Jefferson Parish earning its first District Performance Score increase in four years.
Dr. Gray shares the successes and experiences of the Jefferson Parish education community as a leader and speaker on the state and national levels. He serves on the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) Steering Committee and TNTP’s Superintendent’s Academy. He is also a member of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) Superintendent’s Advisory Council. Dr. Gray co-developed and trained educators across the state on the use of the Compass Leader Rubric, a tool designed to evaluate Louisiana’s school administrators. He has served on numerous state committees and frequently presents at local, regional, and national conferences focusing on effective leadership through cultures of learning and support systems for effective instructional practices.
Dr. Gray earned a full basketball scholarship to Grambling State University, where he graduated with a Bachelors of Science Degree. He earned a Masters of Education from Nicholls State University and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Dr. Gray is married to Ashlie Gray, a professional school counselor. They reside in Jefferson Parish, and together, they are the proud parents of three children: twins Jordan and Jalen and a daughter, Briahni.
You can follow Dr. Gray on Twitter at @DrJamesGray, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or attend one of his upcoming Listen & Learn town halls by visiting jpschools.org/TownHalls.
Past AASA Louisiana Superintendent of the Year Winners:
2023 Louisiana Superintendent of the Year: Patrick Jenkins
2022 Louisiana Superintendent of the Year: Wesley Watts
2021 Louisiana Superintendent of the Year: Sheldon Jones
About the Award:
The Superintendent of the Year program, sponsored by First Student and AASA, pays tribute to the talent and vision of the men and women who lead the nation’s public schools.
State-level winners are selected on the following criteria:
- Leadership for Learning
- Community Involvement