At the Maine School Superintendents Association annual meeting Jeremy Ray was honored as Maine’s 2023 Superintendent of the Year. Pictured left to right are Maine School Superintendents Association President Eric Waddell, Ray, Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin, and Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant. Courtesy Photo

BIDDEFORD — As the COVID-19 pandemic made its way across Maine, Biddeford School Superintendent Jeremy Ray was instrumental in developing a handbook he shared statewide, so superintendents in other districts could tailor it to meet their own district’s needs.

When the Biddeford schools were undergoing a staffing shortage, Ray created an internship program with the University of New England and the University of Southern Maine, creating a feeder system for Biddeford schools. That program also paved the way for interns to become immediate candidates for job openings when they graduated.

For these and other reasons outlined by the Biddeford School Committee in their nomination, Ray was named Maine’s 2023 Superintendent of the Year by the Maine School Superintendent’s Association in a recent ceremony.

Ray has served as Biddeford’s superintendent since 2012,  in Dayton since 2014 and became superintendent in Saco under a three-year contract in February after first serving as interim there.

Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant, also the chair of the Biddeford School Committee, said in a statement that Ray “(is) a pragmatic problem solver and, more importantly, kind, compassionate, and hardworking. In response to tough economic times, Jeremy is known for thinking creatively and critically —a true ‘outside box’ thinker.”

Ray was among a dozen people nominated for Superintendent of the Year or Assistant Superintendent of the Year, said MSSA Director Eileen King.


As Maine’s Superintendent of the Year, he is automatically nominated for the national competition. King said the national winner will be announced in San Antonio at AASA’s National Conference on Education on Feb. 16.

Ray said he is humbled to have been chosen.

“Steve Jobs once said, ‘Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people’ and this could not be more true,” Ray said in a statement. “This accomplishment was made possible because of the superlative team with which I have surrounded myself. 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. 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.”

Ray takes a transparent, engaged, and highly visible approach to leadership, according to the Biddeford School Committee, which noted his numerous accomplishments:

• He hired a development director to focus on private fundraising and grants to help bolster the taxpayer-infused bottom line and a K-12 arts coordinator, which contributed to a 17 percent increase in the music and theater programs opportunities.

• A new math curriculum was adopted, with math coaches to assist in executing the program, resulting in better integration throughout all the schools in the district.


• A STEM Academy was created.

• Ray expanded the Alternative Pathways Center to allow at-risk students or those who learn better in a hands-on environment an opportunity to earn their high school diploma in an appropriate, safe environment. Mental health services are provided, and partnerships with local organizations help students earn credits through creative educational opportunities.

• The School Committee noted Ray empowered school principals to establish programs within their individual schools that meet specific needs which impact learning. One school has established a sensory garden for students with unique needs, and several schools have created free food/backpack programs to help students living with food insecurity.

• As well, Ray recognized the value of establishing trauma-sensitive schools throughout the district, so that all staff would be trained in validating  Adverse Childhood Experiences of students who enter the schools each day, with a focus on resilience.

“Jeremy Ray is best known for generously supporting and assisting Superintendents across the state,” said Eric Waddell, MSSA president. As well as development the COVID-19 handbook, Waddell noted the district’s regional service center purchased masks and other safety equipment for districts across the state, and when the ARPA funds became available, Ray worked with other superintendents and state leaders to develop a system that would equitably distribute these funds outside of the EPS formula.

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