Superintendent Ray delegates "Equity Champions" Across the District

As a key next step to African American Male Empowerment, Shelby County Schools is pleased to offer educators professional development that aims to change the narrative around implicit bias and how we as a district process and understand equity for students.

"If we truly desire to change the lives of our students, we must change perception," said Superintendent Dr. Joris M. Ray. "We believe that the growing body of research on implicit bias can help catalyze more meaningful conversations with educators across SCS."

Superintendent Ray asked each school principals to delegate an “Equity Champion” to attend a four-part learning series (September, November, January and March) as the District "builds a beloved community for all SCS scholars."

The series is hosted by newly appointed Equity Officer Dr. Michael Lowe.

Expected outcome include:

  • Reflecting on beliefs, biases, and assumptions and their impact on leading, teaching and learning
  • Advancing skills to support Optimal Learning Environments, with emphasis on equity in effective instruction
  • Understanding how social identities impact perspective and considering implications for teaching practice
  • Practicing and analyzing scenarios to recognize and address educational inequities

SCS believes the future of Memphis is defined by the success of students, and that success must come to all – not just some. Consistently, our African American males are getting left behind. They are more likely than their peers to be economically disadvantaged, graduate at lower rates, have lower attendance and earn lower ACT scores. In light of this, on July 22, 2019 Superintendent. Ray launched a groundbreaking initiative, African American Male Empowerment.

The program will strategically propel African-American boys to become the next generation of scholars and leaders through EQUITY, EDUCATION and EMPOWERMENT.

Learn more here: http://www.scsk12.org/ourboys

Superintendent Dr. Joris M. Ray Launches Groundbreaking African-American Male Initiative

With the start of a new school year approaching, Shelby County Schools (SCS) Superintendent Dr. Joris M. Ray announced on Monday an exciting new initiative, African-American Male Empowerment.

The announcement was made during special ceremony on Monday at the National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM), which began with a solidarity march into the museum. A number of city and county leaders stood with Dr. Ray to show their support of the new initiative including: Mayor Lee Harris, Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings, Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner, University of Memphis head basketball coach Penny Hardaway, prominent faith-based leaders, influential community partners and SCS students.

This African-American Male Empowerment initiative utilizes the strategic implementation of a robust variety of newly created resources, innovative approaches and advisory supports that have been designed to interrupt the destructive patterns in education that hinder our African-American males.

During the announcement ceremony Dr. Ray stressed that now is the time for action to change not only the lives of thousands of students but the future of the city. He put forth the challenge to the community, especially Memphis men, to volunteer their time to help the District in this initiative.

"We believe the future of Memphis is defined by the success of all SCS students," said Superintendent Ray. "However, our African-American boys are consistently being left behind. They are more likely than their peers to be economically disadvantaged, graduate at low rates, have lower attendance and earn lower ACT scores. Our boys need us."

You can watch a live stream of the event below


In an effort to bridge this gap, Superintendent Ray is launching this initiative to propel our African-American boys to become the next generation of scholars and male leaders through EQUITY, EDUCATION and EMPOWERMENT.

The African-American Male Empowerment initiative aligns with five of Superintendent Ray’s “Seven Next Steps Toward Destination 2025,” which includes Equity in Action, Social Emotional Learning, Culture Building, Creating Servant Leadership and Alignment of Resources. 

Superintendent Ray has identified seven key priorities specifically designed to move the initiative forward:

1.  Ensure access and exposure to rigorous instruction

2.  Intensify restorative practices

3.  Recruit African American male teachers in K-5

4.  Build “Band of Brothers” to support mentoring and tutoring programs

5.  Create an Equity Institute for professional learning

6.  Leverage an Equity Task Force

7.  Establish an Equity Office

This initiative will have an intensive focus on the areas of academic access and restorative practices, and work to expose young African-American males in primary grades to role models that look like them in the form of African-American male teachers. SCS will gather of a core group of leaders to support mentoring and tutoring programs and promote more professional development in the area of equity in education.

Dr. Ray will receive critical support and guidance from an Equity Task Force and from the newly established Equity Office to monitor for compliance regarding equity practices within the District. The Equity Office will be led by Dr. Michael Lowe.

For more information about the African-American Male Empowerment initiative and to learn how to get involved, go to www.scsk12.org/ourboys.