Two new Board of Education members sworn in
Two new Board of Education members sworn in
Melody McCray-Miller and Ncog Vuong have been sworn in as members of the Wichita Public Schools Board of Education.
Melody McCray-Miller has been elected to serve as the district’s At-Large Board of Education member.
She was born and raised in Wichita and was a student at both Little and Carter elementary schools. She then attended Coleman Middle School and graduated from Southeast High School in 1974.
She attended Friends University and Wichita State University where she majored in Psychology.
She got married to Larry Miller and moved to Houston where she finished her degree in Psychology at the University of Houston.
When McCray-Miller moved back to Wichita 10 years later, she became active in the community and in politics.
“I care deeply about the total community and there were so many things I wanted to help with. I come from a pollical background,” said McCray-Miller. “My father, Billy McCray, was a Kansas state representative and state senator and was the first black Sedgwick County commissioner.”
After her father left the commission, McCray-Miller ran for the commission at the precinct level and lost, but spent her time becoming active in the community. Two years later in 1995, she won a seat on the county commission in district four where she served one term as the commission’s first African American woman.
She had also returned to Wichita State and got her master’s degree in education and taught at Mayberry Middle School and Southeast High School from 1990-1995, focusing on civics, social studies, world history and world geography.
During this period, McCray-Miller and her husband started a family barbecue business, Miller’s Inc. While the local restaurant has closed, the family now sells Miller’s Bar B Que Baked Beans nationally in grocery stores.
In 2004, she successfully ran for the Kansas legislature where she served for eight years. She also periodically worked as a substitute teacher in the district.
“My philosophy is ‘variety is the spice of life,’ so I’ve always wanted to do multiple things,” McCray-Miller said. “I’ve always had multiple irons in the fire.”
She spent several years focusing on her family and their barbecue business while also serving as interim director at the Urban League of Kansas. She also became an adjunct professor at Wichita State in 2021 where she’s taught political science.
“I began to hear some of the attacks on public education and I decided to run for the school board when a position was available,” McCray-Miller said.
“I want to ensure that public education is funded appropriately,” McCray-Miller said. “I want all students to be represented and to bring back respect for public education. Education is one way we can lift everyone.”
McCray-Miller has three daughters, six grandchildren and four great grandchildren, all of whom have attended schools in the district.
“I’m very excited about the new superintendent and the direction the district is moving in,” she said.
Ngoc Vuong, who represents District 3, is the youngest person to win a seat on the Board of Education and the first Vietnamese person to be elected to the BOE.
Vuong is a proud WPS graduate having attended Woodman Elementary, Truesdell Middle School and graduated from South High in 2018.
In high school, he played the viola in the orchestra and played the bass drum and percussion instruments in the band and was active in the AVID program.
He also served as class president and did a lot of work to help beautify the school. Vuong is known for his work in mental health, starting ICTeens in Mind, a youth-led mental health advocacy group, where he began mentoring other students struggling with mental illness. He also enjoyed mentoring students at Enders Community Service and Leadership Magnet Elementary School.
“My mom passed away when I was 15,” Vuong said. “I’m very grateful for the life lessons she taught me. The biggest lesson was service above self. How can we utilize our strengths, talents and education as a force for good, especially how can we serve our school and our community?”
Vuong went to Wichita State University where he graduated with an Honors Baccalaureate degree in Psychology and Public Health and a minor in Economics.
While in college, Vuong worked at Safe Streets Wichita where he worked on projects to address the opioid epidemic, including helping to get fentanyl test strips decriminalized and starting a free Naloxone (Narcan) program in Wichita.
“I’m a researcher through and through,” Vuong said. “While in college I did research on primary care and behavioral health integration, around immigrant mental health and harm reduction and drug policy.”
He’s now working on his PhD in Community Psychology at Wichita State, serving as a graduate teaching assistant. He also works for the Community Engagement Institute at Wichita State, where he’s done evaluations for school districts and school-based mental health services in Kansas.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunities I had in Wichita Public Schools,” said Vuong.
He’s looking forward to serving on the district’s school board and building relationships with students and staff.
“I want our students to understand that they have a champion in our school board,” Vuong said. “I’d love to address some of the barriers students, parents and staff have in getting more involved in their school and district decision making.”