Dr. Cedrick Gray: What he wishes he'd done better - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Dr. Cedrick Gray: What he wishes he'd done better

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A new chapter is underway for former Jackson Public School District Superintendent Dr. Cedrick Gray. On Wednesday he said farewell to JPS for good. But did he resign on his own or was he forced out?

"Melissa, once again, I'm grateful for the opportunity to interview, I would rather not talk about it though," said Dr. Gray.

After leading the district for 4 and 1/2 years, each of his yearly evaluations with the board of trustees came back stellar. He'd won national awards and was recognized as an innovator and superior leader.

Even so, four state audits in the span of a few months showed serious issues at many of the schools. And in the Fall of 2016, new state test scores came back and showed that JPS was a failing district.

Dr. Gray says he was ready for war.

"We had a solid plan to respond to it, because now the cut scores have been set and targets have been set," said Gray. "So every school knows now what it takes to be the next level up."

But he never got the chance to implement his plan. With nearly 30 months left on his newly extended contract, JPS School Board President Bonita Burt announced that Gray was stepping down. 

"Again it is something that I'm not at liberty to discuss, and I hope that our community understands that," said Gray.

RELATED STORY:  Dr. Cedrick Gray: The successes and struggles of JPS

What he does want to discuss is what he wishes he'd done better. The district had recently launched a series of Town Hall meetings giving Gray a chance to meet with parents face to face and listen to their concerns firsthand.

"I learned so much just being out in the community," said Dr. Gray. "I'm always in schools, but really hearing from parents."

He says its something he wishes he'd done in his early months as Superintendent.

"If God steers me to another superintendency, next place I go we will do that first, lay right out in to the community. several town halls. several listening tours and not just doing it for the sake of doing it, but doing it for the sake of listening," said Gray.

When Gray took the job with JPS back in 2012 he brought with him many of his own people from Tennessee. It's a decision he doesn't regret and one that he stands by.

"The reason you bring your own people is that we had to get to work right away," Dr. Gray added. "We had to hit the ground running and I didn't have an opportunity to learn from those who were around me when i arrived."

Gray's next steps are uncertain but with a child currently enrolled in elementary school within JPS, he won't go far, for now. And as he sifts through the opportunities that have already begun filtering in, he pauses to offer these words of advice to the next Superintendent.

"Surround yourself with good people, people you know and that you can trust," said Gray. "Stay focused on the work. Don't let the noise drown out the small whisper. And thirdly, and once again, I don't mean to push my faith on anyone, but whoever they hire better be grounded and rooted in the love of Jesus Christ."

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