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Ray chosen as Heritage’s outstanding staff member

MADISON – LaJeanna Ray’s fervor for children’s fitness led to work as physical education aid at Heritage Elementary School. She is Staff Member of the Year at Heritage.

 “I love seeing the kids’ faces when they improve a skill, attain a goal or find out they really like something after trying it for the first time,” Ray said. “It brings me joy to help them find joy in something active.”

As PE aide, she helps Coach Robert Carter plan activities. She’s also “the compassionate tear-wiping, shoe-tying, Band-Aid supplying, crazy dancer, Golden-Rule-speech giver, exercise demonstrator, jump-roping phenom, music playlist developer … and, last but definitely not least, a positive influence for these kids,” Ray said.

Ray earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and PE at UNA and taught in Lake Charles, La. before returning to Alabama. She worked in the fitness industry for 20-plus years while raising four children. She joined Heritage’s staff in 2013.

“When a job was available with Madison City Schools as a PE aide, I jumped on the chance to combine my love for fitness and kids,” she said. “I take my job very seriously.”

“The teacher that impacted my life the most is my high school math teacher, Hisham Durdunji. He has such a gift,” Ray said. “He made learning math fun for me and taught me not to give up.”

“His genuine care for the students and wanting them to succeed was very evident. He made such an impact that I became a math teacher,” she said.

A native of Russellville, she married her “high school sweetheart Tom. We have lived in Lake Charles, Louisville, Ky. and Hattiesburg, Miss. We always returned to sweet home Alabama!” she said.

Her husband Tom works as an engineer for the federal government on Redstone Arsenal.

Their children are Jacob, 21, a junior electrical engineering major at University of Alabama; Mckenna, 19, sophomore at University of North Alabama and Lady Lions’ softball player; Dylan, 16, Bob Jones High School freshman; and Brayden, 13, Liberty Middle School seventh-grader.

LaJeanna’s hobbies include watching her children in sports and workouts at Crossfit Madison. 

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