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Teacher’s passing leaves void at GMS

A teacher with the Butler County School System will be fondly remembered by students and administration alike.

Jeffrey Newton Ray, a Georgiana resident, died on Thursday, April 18 at his residence.

Ray began his teaching tenure in the county at R.L. Austin Elementary School in August 2005. He taught math and science for the past two years at Greenville Middle School.

“He was a very easygoing guy. We never had any negative issues with one another,” said GMS principal Jai Hill.

He recalled a teacher who enjoyed interacting with the students outside the classroom.

“One of the things I noticed about Mr. Ray was how he used his planning period. Most teachers stay in their classroom. But he would go out and play basketball or football with the kids,” Hill said. “That last Friday before we had spring break, I made a point to go out there and watch him for 15 to 20 minutes, just to let him know I really did notice he was giving that time to them.”

Counselors from across the county assembled at GMS on Monday to speak with the students “and that went very, very well.”

“Our students were also able to write letters to his wife, and that was truly a healing activity,” Hill said.

A certified and highly qualified teacher is filling in as a long-term substitute for Ray’s classes, the principal said.

Joseph Dean, interim superintendent for the school system, said he knew Ray not only as a teacher, but as a caring parent as well.

“I was principal of two of his children at Georgiana High School, and he was always interested and quick to respond to any situation. His passing is hard for his immediate family, but also hard for his extended family. It will definitely leave a void,” Dean said. “We are now trying to put the pieces back together and move forward.”

Ray was buried on Sunday at Mt. Olive West Cemetery. Survivors includes his wife, Sharon Beverly Ray and sons, Justin (Jessica) Ray, Joseph “Tyler” Ray, Jonathan “Corey” Ray, and Samuel “Levi” Ray, all of Georgiana.