Beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, whatever that may look like, Dr. Frederick Ray Jr. will fill the role as principal of Piedmont Lakes Middle School, which has a student body of a little over 1,000.
An Apopka resident who lives eight minutes from Piedmont Lakes, Ray succeeds Dr. Edward (Jerome) Thompson, who was its principal from 2013 until this March when he retired. Dr. Valeria Maxwell, a retired Orange County Public Schools principal, returned to become acting principal from March to June.
“I like to align my vision and mission with the district. I’ve aligned that component because it speaks to how we want to assist the students in the community within this district,” Ray said. “So the values of equity, integrity, inclusion, and respect, I want to ensure that each student has a promising and successful future and just want to be able to support the families in the community because I understand it’s a pathway to lead our students to success.”
“The biggest thing is to have high expectations for student learning and understanding the social and emotional well being of each of our children in our communities and families, and trying to have a focus on a high quality and dedicated team so we can serve the community the best way we can,” Ray said. “One of the things I enjoy is – and that I know – is that any school in Orange County is a pillar of the community, and we want to be open to the families of the students that we serve.”
OCPS Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins announced Ray as Piedmont Lake’s new top administrator at the school board’s June 9 meeting.
According to OCPS’s 2020-2021 school calendar, July 31 through August 7 is pre-planning in OCPS, with August 5 being Professional Development Day and August 10 being the first day of school for students. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, that calendar could possibly be changed.
Ray began his education career in 2001 as a substitute teacher for OCPS while playing for the Orlando Predators, an Arena Football League team. He played for six years; during that time, he got his teaching certification.
“While I was playing – I played six years in the Arena – I was substituting at the same time,” he said. “I taught for a semester while I was trying to finish up my football playing days, then I became a full-fledged teacher after that. Technically, in some capacity, I’ve been with OCPS since 2001.”
His OCPS career also includes administrative work, being a dean, and an assistant principal. Ray was named the 2019-20 Assistant Principal of the Year for OCPS while being employed at Carver Middle School.
Growing up in Pine Hills, Ray graduated from Evans High School in 1994. He attended Howard University on a football scholarship and got his bachelor’s degree in health science. He received his master’s degree in educational leadership from Jones International University, and his doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Capella University.
Ray’s decision to transition from football to education was rooted in his passion for giving back to his community through education.
“I felt it was about time I accepted my calling, which is education,” he said. “It was an easy choice for me. I left that part of my life and wanted to give back to my community that helped me get to that point.”
Ray is married with two children. Both of their children attend Rock Springs Elementary School, and his wife works as secondary senior administrator for OCPS.