Mary T. McCray, Chairperson, At-Large
McCray was elected as an at-large member of the Board of Education in 2011. A native of High Point, NC, she worked in education for 34 years, 24 of them in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, before retiring in July 2011. She holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education from North Carolina A&T State University. She moved to Charlotte after graduation and taught elementary school in Union County for a decade before joining CMS. She taught at Collinswood, Morehead, Piney Grove and Endhaven elementary schools, as well as Community House Middle. McCray has also been active in local, state and national teacher organizations, including the National Council of Urban Educators, the National Council of Teachers of Math, the National Council for Social Studies and the International Reading Association. She was the first full-time president of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators. McCray has three adult children who attended district schools, including one who is now a CMS CTE Facilitator. Her salary as a Board of Education member is $2,860.58 per month.
Elyse C. Dashew, Vice-Chairperson
Dashew was elected as an at-large member of the Board of Education in 2015. After graduating from Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, she worked in the television industry and later ran a publishing business. She has lived in Mecklenburg County since 1995 and is a longtime advocate for public education. Dashew has served on numerous Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools committees and task forces, co-chaired the CMS Bond Oversight Committee and co-founded the advocacy group MeckFUTURE. Dashew also serves on the board of directors for GenerationNation and on the executive committee for N.C. Parents Advocating for School Health. She grew up in California and spent seven years of her childhood living on a sailboat circumnavigating the world with her family. Her daughter is a CMS graduate and her son currently attends CMS. Her salary as a Board of Education member is $2,228.42 per month.
Ericka Ellis-Stewart, At-Large
Ellis-Stewart was elected as an at-large member on the Board of Education in 2011. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Queens University in Charlotte (formerly Queens College). She is a native of Guilford County and has lived in the Charlotte area since 1992. Ellis-Stewart served as the executive director of two local nonprofit organizations, Right Moves for Youth and the Johnston YMCA. She has also worked for Hands On Charlotte and the National Conference of Christians & Jews. Her professional experience includes creating prevention-based programs for at-risk youth and building effective public/private partnerships. Ellis-Stewart has also served on several local boards, committees and task forces during her time in Charlotte, as well as working as a volunteer in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. She is currently serving a second three-year term on the national steering committee of the Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) which is an auxiliary group of the National School Board Association. She and her husband, Marcus, have two children. Her salary as a Board of Education member is $2,228.42 per month.
Rhonda Cheek, District 1
Cheek was elected to the Board of Education in 2009 to represent District 1. A graduate of South Mecklenburg High School, she holds an associate degree in nursing and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UNC Charlotte. Cheek is a registered nurse and works in the healthcare industry. She started Families United for North Mecklenburg Education (FUME) in 2003 and has served on several education-related committees and the board of Charlotte Advocates for Education. A resident of Cornelius, she has lived in Mecklenburg County since 1978 and has three children. Her daughters are both graduates of North Mecklenburg High School and her son currently attends Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Her salary as a Board of Education member is $2,228.42 per month.
Thelma Byers-Bailey, District 2
Byers-Bailey was elected to the Board of Education in 2013 to represent District 2. A native Charlottean, she graduated from West Charlotte High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in physics and math from Fisk University. She holds a law degree from St. Louis University Law School and master’s degree from the St. Louis Joint Degree Program. While practicing law in California she served the Wiley Manual Bar Association as president and the California State Bar Conference of Delegates as a member of the Calendar Coordinating Committee before retiring to return home to Charlotte. Byers-Bailey is president of the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Association, serves as a member of the Friendship CDC Board of Directors and the African American Community Fund’s Board of Directors. She has served as an after-school math tutor for 4th and 5th grade students , as well as a mentor for an 8th grader at Walter G. Byers School. Ms. Byers-Bailey has two adult children and seven grandchildren which two now attend Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Her salary as a Board of Education member is $2,228.42 per month.
Ruby M. Jones, District 3
Dr. Jones was appointed to the Board of Education in 2015 to serve the unexpired term of District 3 representative Dr. Joyce Waddell, who resigned after being elected to the North Carolina Senate. A native of Raleigh, she holds a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in library science from Winston-Salem State University, a master’s degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a doctorate in education administration and curriculum supervision from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also holds several specialized certifications in education, exceptional children, and gifted and early childhood development. Dr. Jones has spent her entire career in education, including teaching and administrative positions in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. She has served as a state reviewer for low-performing schools, was a program specialist, coordinator and assistant principal in Kannapolis City schools, a coordinator in Wake County and an assistant principal in CMS. Dr. Jones has also served on policy and review committees in North Carolina. She is a former adjunct professor at Central Piedmont Community College, and former professor at Montreat and Livingstone colleges and Shaw University. She has two daughters who are CMS graduates and four grandchildren. Her salary as a Board of Education member is $2,228.42 per month.
Carol Sawyer, District 4
Carol Sawyer was elected to the Board of Education in 2017. She holds master’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and George Washington University, and earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She has served as director of exhibits and planning at the Museum of Life and Science and as a consultant for nonprofit organizations. Sawyer previously served on the Board of Education’s Equity Committee and is a co-founder of the advocacy organizations OneMECK and Mecklenburg ACTS. She and her husband, Tom Hanchett, have one adult daughter, who is a graduate of East Mecklenburg High School. Her salary as a Board of Education member is $2,228.42 per month.
Margaret Marshall, District 5
Marshall was elected to the Board of Education in 2017. A native of Lexington, North Carolina, she graduated from Wake Forest University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She began her career as a CPA with Ernst & Whinney in Raleigh before moving to Charlotte in 1986 to work with the John Crosland Company, Centex Homes and Crosland Erwin Associates. Marshall has served as PTA president of Alexander Graham Middle and Myers Park High School, and was a founding board member of the Myers Park High School Foundation. She has also served on the board of the East Mecklenburg High School Foundation and the YMCA’s Community Impact Committee, where she led the task force to create the Howard Levine Early Childhood Development Center with the Renaissance West Community Initiative. She has tutored in math at several district elementary schools and has been active in community organizations. She and her husband, Harrison Marshall, have two daughters who are CMS graduates. Her salary as a Board of Education member is $2,228.42 per month.
Sean Strain, District 6
Strain was elected to the Board of Education in 2017. A product of public schools, Strain was raised as a military dependent. A business and systems consultant with Perficient, he has particular interest in the use of metrics and data analysis. He graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering. Previously, Strain served for three years as a School Leadership Team member at Crestdale Middle. He currently serves on four nonprofit executive boards and advisory committees in Mecklenburg County. Strain is married with four children who are enrolled in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. His salary as a Board of Education member is $2,228.42 per month.
Kendall Sanders, Student Advisor
Sanders was elected by her peers to represent students on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. She is serving a one-year term as student advisor to the Board, providing student feedback and perspective. Kendall, a junior majoring in piano at Northwest School of the Arts, is the daughter of Retired 1st Sgt. Kenneth Sanders and Tyra Sanders. Prior to Northwest, Sanders attended Park Road Montessori. She is active in her school, community and church, where she is a member of Youth Missionary, Girl Scouts, the audio visual team and dances with the Angels in Praise Ministry. She's a member of the Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society, the Superintendent's Student Advisory Council and GenerationNation. She also serves as a vice president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Youth Council, the district-wide student advisory council for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. A civic leadership graduate of Youth Lead Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Sanders plays the violin and enjoys shopping, reading and spending time with her family – that is, when she's not working at Target.