Jeremy Ray, who leads the Biddeford, Saco and Dayton school departments, has been named Superintendent of the Year by the Maine School Superintendents Association.

Ray was nominated by the Biddeford School Committee for taking “a transparent, engaged and highly-visible approach to leadership.” He is known for his strength in budgeting and finance, but is also “a pragmatic problem solver and, more importantly, kind, compassionate and hardworking,” said Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant, who serves as chair of the school committee.

Superintendent of the Year Jeremy Ray, left, of Biddeford schools, and Assistant Superintendent of the Year Shawn Lambert of Brunswick schools were honored this week. Photo courtesy of Biddeford Schools

“Jeremy is known for thinking creatively and critically – a true ‘outside the box’ thinker,” Casavant said.

Ray has been superintendent of Biddeford schools for the past decade. He took on the same role in Dayton after the town voted in 2013 to leave RSU 23. Earlier this year, the school committees in Biddeford and Saco agreed that Ray would serve as Saco’s superintendent for three years.

The award was announced Wednesday during the annual Maine School Superintendents Association meeting. Each year, the association recognizes a superintendent who promotes access to education and supports other school leaders.

Ray, who lives in Saco with his family, said he is honored and humbled by the recognition and that it would not be possible without the team around him.


“I encourage my team to think differently, challenge the norm and generate creative ideas to support our students and staff; they rise to the challenge and exceed expectations,” Ray said in a statement. “When I look back at my time as superintendent, it is astounding what we have accomplished together; yet, the past few years have been the most demanding, and I am so grateful we persevered.”

In its nomination, the school committee cited several of Ray’s accomplishments, including hiring a development director to focus on private fundraising and grants to augment taxpayer dollars, adding an arts coordinator to create a more robust K-12 arts program, and creating a STEM academy.

During his time in Biddeford, Ray has focused on empowering school administrators, providing opportunities for students who have traditionally fallen through the cracks and supporting students who have experienced trauma, according to the school committee.

He expanded the Alternative Pathways Center for at-risk students so they can earn their diplomas, have a safe environment and access mental health services. He also started trauma-sensitive training that teaches staff throughout the district to validate the adverse childhood experiences of students and focus on resilience for overcoming obstacles.

To address a staff shortage, Ray created an internship program with the University of New England and the University of Southern Maine that allows interns to apply for job openings as soon as they graduate.

Eric Waddell, president of the superintendent association, said Ray is known for supporting and assisting other superintendents across the state.

“Throughout the pandemic, Jeremy was instrumental in developing a COVID-19 handbook that he shared statewide so that other superintendents could tailor it to meet the needs of their districts,” Waddell said in a statement.

Ray’s regional service center purchased masks and other safety equipment for districts across the state, Waddell said, and when American Rescue Plan Act dollars became available, he helped develop a system to equitably distribute that money outside of the Essential Programs and Services Funding formula, which determines state and local funding levels needed for schools to offer programs and resources.

Shawn Lambert of the Brunswick School Department was named Assistant Superintendent of the Year.

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