Henrico’s Top Teachers – Doug Wright

Doug Wright took up teaching as a second career, after working as a musician for several years.

He considered becoming a probation officer instead of teaching, since he had gotten to know some criminals in the music industry.  But eventually, he says, he ended up studying French – “because it sounded like music to me.”

Wright credits some special college professors for steering him into teaching –  and 29 years later, it’s evident the career he chose is a fitting one.

“When students tell me they are thinking about being a teacher, I tell them it’s the best job you’ll ever have,” he says.  “And it’s the worst job you will ever have.”

While the difficult moments include sharing the pain of children struggling with abusive family members, low self-esteem, and grief, to Wright the positives clearly outweigh the negatives.  He says he especially enjoys seeing a struggling student finally mastering a difficult concept, and watching shy children grow into confident young men and women.

He cites among his favorite memories the night he took a group of students – most of them low-income – to dinner at a French restaurant, and one student took half his dinner home to show his mother.

“He and his family had never been to a restaurant before,” says Wright.  “It was quite touching.”

Wright adds that like most teachers, he also cherishes the chance encounters with grown-up former students and hearing that he made a difference in their lives.  “It’s special,” he says.

A parent who nominated Wright indicated that at least one current sixth-grader is sure to be part of that future fan club long after she has left Short Pump M.S.

“My sixth grader does not love going to school,” wrote the parent – but noted that Wright’s classes are the exception.

“[His classes] are the only classes my daughter ever talks about when she’s at home . . and in each and every instance she is smiling [as she does],” said the parent.  “That is not the case in most of her other subjects.”

Wright uses different voices, tells stories, and truly engages students as he brings the subject to life.  “[He] makes learning easier and fun – and my sixth-grader is all about fun!” wrote the parent.

“I’m thrilled because each and every day my child who typically doesn’t want to go to school gets up and goes with excitement because . . . Mr. Wright connects with her.”

Of course, as Wright will attest, connecting with students is not always about making lessons fun; there are also times when his charges require discipline and “stern redirecting.”

When those students respond by claiming that he is not their friend, Wright’s reply neatly sums up his philosophy that teaching is about taking the long view.         

“That’s right,” he tells the student in need of discipline.  “I’m not your friend, I’m your teacher. Your friend only cares about today.

“Your teacher cares about the rest of your life.”
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Henrico Business Bulletin Board

June 2017

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The Latin Ballet of Virginia will present “MOMO” at 7 p.m. June 2 and at 2 p.m. June 3-4 at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. Based on the fantasy novel by Michael Ende (author of “The NeverEnding Story”), “MOMO” is about a little girl who saves the world from the time thieves by her special ability to listen. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. For details and tickets, call 356-3876 or visit http://www.latinballet.com/momo-event. Full text

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Henrico's Top Teachers

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