Dr. Donna Wright will celebrate two years as Wilson County Director of Schools on July 1.
It is a position she'd had her eyes on prior to it "opening up" in 2014.
Wright grew up in Miami, Florida. She and her family moved to Oak Ridge during her teen years. Wright graduated from Oak Ridge High School and earned three degrees from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
She worked in the Knox County School System for 30 years before relocating to Middle Tennessee with her husband of 44 years, Gary Wright, to be closer to their adult children.
"My daughter, Kelly Nelson, had started a business several years ago and then enticed her bother, Matthew Wright, who lived in New York at the time to join her," Wright explained. "After living through 9/11, he decided to take his sister up on her invitation and move to Wilson County. My son married a local girl, Sonya Smith. My husband had retired from the Oak Ridge National Lab and so we decided to figure out we, too, could relocated in Wilson County."
Wright took a position with the Williamson County School System and waited two years before an opportunity with Wilson County became available.
"The most satisfying and rewarding part of my job is going in and out (of) schools on a regular basis and observing exceptional instruction being provided to our students by exceptional educators," Wright said. "The magic that a teacher produces in their classroom every day in setting the stage for learning is something that continues to leave me in awe of the work they do. Everyone needs to watch and follow a kindergarten teacher - just for one day - to appreciate what they are able to do with 15 to 20 wee-wots on a daily basis, without missing a beat."
The biggest challenge she faces as Director of Schools is dispelling the "myth" that public schools are a failing enterprise.
"People are amazed when I present their ROI (return on investment) in public education - scholarships, corporations/company relocation, population growth, etcetera," she said. "The economic barometers of many communities are measured by the success and performance of the local public school district - Wilson County being no exception."
In her spare time, Wright enjoys reading. "I love to travel to places I have read about and have been very fortunate to have traveled to many countries in Europe and Asia," she said.
She is also grandmother to Spencer Wright.
A woman she admires is former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
"She was such a strong, intelligent and witty woman. She could be self-deprecating in a way that endeared her to many Americans during a time of great difficulty and misery, but then uplift the masses with words of encouragement and hope," Wright said. "I am intrigued with the sadness of her personal life, but how she managed to emerge with grace and dignity through public humiliations. Remarkable in so many ways."