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Michael M. Gray
Race Brook School
Orange Elementary School System
Orange, Connecticut

For Race Brook School principal Michael M. Gray, keys to effective leadership are a culture of personalization, strong professional learning communities, and partnerships that promote 21st century skills and citizenship. A hands-on principal, Gray is usually out and about campus, spending 10-15 minutes in classrooms daily, visiting teachers and the school’s 379 grade one through six students. Differentiated, personalized instruction with the aid of software programs, such as Accelerated Reader and Dreambox Math, help teachers customize learning experiences, and small group interventions and teacher coaches ensure struggling students keep up. Gray is committed to positive student reinforcement through ongoing recognition of academic, character and peer accomplishments. Bi-monthly assemblies celebrate students who tutor peers, provide community service and model exemplary behavior. Gray has also placed professional learning communities at the heart of Race Brook culture. Regular collaborative meetings and an expectation of excellence are activities core to the school’s “way of doing business.” Monthly staff recognitions include gift cards, free lunches and covered recess duty. Friday eBlasts recognize parent involvement in activities such as Read Across America, Art Goes to School and other programs. Gray has also forged partnerships enabling STEM programs, such as a fourth-grade electricity course, and Junior Achievement, where students learn real world economic, math and marketing skills from local experts. According to Superintendent Lynn McMullin, “Mike is a systems builder with a high capacity for compassion, and a true appreciation of others and responsiveness to their needs.” Gray earned a B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Massachusetts, and an M.S. in Elementary Education and Sixth Year Ed. Leadership from Southern Connecticut State University.