Gray connects business community and Oxford students

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The Oxford School District and Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation have partnered to assist in developing career pathways for OSD students and strengthen the relationships between community stakeholders and the school district.

Duncan Gray, Ed.D., has been named the Director of Community and Workforce Development, a position based out of the EDF office, and will serve as a liaison between the business and community groups and the Oxford School District.

“I’m ecstatic about this opportunity. It brings together two of my passions, education and the LOU community, and it promotes a level of synergy between all of the stakeholders that, in the end, will benefit the students moving through the Oxford School District as well as the community at large,” said Gray.

Being based out of the EDF office allows Gray to work closely with Jon Maynard and the EDF staff on the public/private partnerships. The new partnership has already submitted one grant to enhance post-secondary education opportunities for OSD students and community members who want to pursue careers in the STEM, Healthcare, and Manufacturing fields

Additional collaborative projects include expanding opportunities for summer camps that promote careers in STEM, Healthcare, and Manufacturing, recruiting businesses to partner in job shadowing and internships, and identifying specific workforce needs and opportunities to further help students discern career pathways.

“Everything we’re working on is meant to enhance the local workforce in the community and promote economic growth. It’s critical we’re able to talk between the business community and the school district, and the more each has its pulse on what the other is doing, the more we can accomplish. Economic development is really about people development, and that’s what this partnership accomplishes,” Maynard said.

Gray said the district has worked hard over the last three years to really develop a mindset of college and career readiness, and part of this focus is career exploration activities for all students, not just high school students. As such, he hopes to be a resource for teachers and administrators across the district.

“I’m a big believer in experiential learning, learning by doing. It brings relevance to content, and it can be done at any age. Our community is one of our best resources to assist in providing these learning opportunities, and I hope to connect staff in the school district with those local resources,” Gray said.

Bradley Roberson, the Superintendent of the Oxford School District, said the partnership and position is a natural next step for the district as they embark on developing students who are College, Career, and Life ready. “At convocation, I challenged the staff to create memorable moments of learning as we work toward graduating students who are College, Career, and Life ready. Working closely with our local community partners gives all of our students a better opportunity to really see their learning come to life and better understand how everything connects.”

Gray began his new role on July 1.