10/13/04 — Director of county's exceptional children's school program named winner for southeast region

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Director of county's exceptional children's school program named winner for southeast region

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Published in News on October 13, 2004 1:59 PM

The director of Wayne County public schools' exceptional children program has been named Outstanding Director of the Year for the southeast region.

The North Carolina Council of Administrators of Special Education recognized Ms. Ray during its annual conference recently in Wrightsville Beach. A group of Ms. Ray's peers from 19 counties in the southeast, including Lenoir, New Hanover, Onslow, Duplin, Craven and Carteret counties, selected her as recipient of the honor.

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction also weighed in with accolades.

Jessica Swencki, regional consultant for the Exceptional Children Division, said, "I depend on Ms. Ray for her leadership within our region. She is well respected by all and brings an informed, yet unbiased perspective when we are faced with challenges regarding the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act."

During her nine years in the role, Ms. Ray has helped pilot new state initiatives, such as the Instructional Consultation Team Model, which focuses on helping teachers target at-risk students through a collaborative approach. Falling under the Exceptional Children Program, the Academically and Intellectually Gifted Program serves as a model for the state.

Dr. Steven Taylor, superintendent of schools, described Ms. Ray as someone who takes on challenges willingly. He said she has been especially active with the school system's Education Foundation and credited her with working effectively with principals and parents to resolve issues to benefit children.

"Ms. Marlee Ray represents all the attributes needed to receive this most prestigious award," he said.

The exceptional children program serves children who have physical handicaps, emotional disabilities, are cognitively delayed, or who are academically gifted. More than 4,000 Wayne County students are recipients of the services.

"I enjoy working to meet families' needs and working with the schools and teachers to develop programs for children to make sure they find them challenging and rewarding and to make sure the individual needs of children are being administered appropriately," Ms. Ray said.

A graduate from Meredith College with a B.A. in American History, Ms. Ray also holds an M.A. in education from East Carolina University. She is pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership.

Ms. Ray has received various teaching, reading and leadership certificates, and she currently serves on Wayne County's More At Four Community Task Force.