Ray Earns Bachelor’s Degree Through Cedar Hill ISD’s “Grow Your Own” Program

Brandon Ray

(CEDAR HILL, TEXAS) Brandon Ray has been encouraging his Collegiate Prep Elementary colleagues to enroll in Cedar Hill ISD’s “Grow Your Own” Program ever since he began it.

“I’m an advocate for the program – it has done wonders for me,” Ray said.

“Grow Your Own” is a Cedar Hill ISD Program that encourages paraprofessionals and long-term substitute teachers to become classroom teachers. While they’re in the program, they serve as classroom teachers, completing a Bachelor’s Degree and teacher certification.

Ray, a Cedar Hill citizen and father of a Bessie Coleman Middle School eighth grader, arrived at Collegiate Prep in the summer of 2021 as a Physical Education Aide.

In the summer of 2022, Ray joined the “Grow Your Own” Program and became a PE Teacher at Collegiate Prep.

Last month, Ray – at age 41 – earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Indiana Wesleyan University.

“It was a challenge being a full-time teacher and a full-time student, but it was well worth it,” Ray said.

Ray encouraged Collegiate Prep long-term substitute Christian James, a Collegiate High School Class of 2020 Graduate, to enroll in the program, and James did last summer.

Ray credits Collegiate Prep Principal Dr. Xavier Lewis, along with teacher mentors Elaine Williams, Shelly Hernandez, Brian Brown, Zachary Davis, Brianna Johnson, and Shanika Cliff, with his success.

“I’ve had a lot of supporters and mentors,” said Ray, who previously was a Special Education Paraprofessional at a charter school in Dallas.

Ray loves teaching Physical Education because of the interaction with scholars.

“I’m one of the few teachers that gets to connect with all of the scholars,” Ray said. “I have 500+ kids in class each week.”

Ray also coached the Collegiate Prep Boys Basketball to consecutive CHISD Elementary Basketball Championships. The campus had never won the title before that.


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