IWCS’s Rashard Wright receives national award
Published 10:57 am Wednesday, November 26, 2014
ISLE OF WIGHT
Rashard Wright’s desire for leadership and for Isle of Wight County students to receive the best education possible has been nationally recognized. Wright, who is the executive director of K-12 schools and leadership development in the IWCS system, was presented the 2014 National Marcus Foster Distinguished Educator Award.
The ceremony took place last Friday in Kansas City, Missouri, during the convention of the National Alliance of Black School Educators. As stated on its website, the NABSE “recognizes distinguished individuals who have made national and international contributions to the education of African-American educators and learners.” Wright’s award was given to a person who shows “exceptional leadership qualities in making systemic impacts in the field of education.”
Asked why he thinks he was recognized, Wright said, “I have a passion for leadership. I work with aspiring leaders, principals and assistant principals. My focus has always been to paint a picture to be part of the ever-evolving process of improvement. So many people have been part of that initiative.”
Who proposed his name is still a mystery, Wright said, but he figures it’s a colleague on the national level that he’s come in contact with.
Locally, though, IWCS Superintendent Dr. Katrise Perera also offered her praise.
“We are very proud of Mr. Wright’s achievement. This award is a testament to his passion and dedication to ensuring that all of our students receive the same level of high-quality education,” she said. “Just as the namesake of this award, Mr. Wright continues to look for opportunities to cultivate educational leaders to embody our mission of preparing all 21st-century learners for educational excellence.”
His career path in education didn’t come about in a usual way. For example, children of educators can often be inspired to become teachers themselves, but that was not the case with Wright.
“I do not come from a family of educators, but I was mentored and inspired by educators like Dr. Billy Cannaday, former state superintendent and current U.Va. Dean of the School of Continuing Studies. and many pseudo-mother figures and father figures,” he said.
Interacting with children while at freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University began to solidify his direction.
“I started tutoring middle school children in Richmond Public Schools, it was a clear sign that I wanted to teach and one day make a difference for struggling learners,” he said.
Since earning his bachelor’s degree in English, Wright went on to get a master’s of teaching in English-Education, both at VCU, and later and an Ed.S in educational leadership from George Washington University. But he hasn’t stopped there. Wright is working on completing his doctorate in education at Old Dominion University.
The award this past weekend was not his first recognition. In the past Wright was lauded for “making an immediate difference” during his time (2006-2008) as principal of C. Vernon Spratley Middle School in Hampton.
In 2009, he became the first African-American principal of Kecoughtan High School, where he graduated in 1996. And just last year, Wright was picked for the SUPES Academy – Atlanta Cohort, a national superintendent preparation program.
In addition to the aforementioned positions, Wright has also been at Gloucester High School and Peasley Middle School as an assistant principal. He came to IWCS as director of secondary schools in 2012, and rose to his current position earlier this year.
In addition to his work of supervising the leaders in the nine schools, Wright has established a #LeadershipMatters conceptual framework to lead IWCS leaders with consistent communication, coaching and leadership paradigms. He’s working on creating an IWCS Leadership Pipeline and succession plan, and is serving as a leadership coach at Hardy and Carrollton elementary schools due to their Accreditation with Warning Status, which he also did last year with Windsor High.
He lives with his wife, Erin, and their three sons, Ryan, 15, Owyn, 4, and Evan, 7 months.
“I am truly humbled by this award,” Wright said. “Every day I remind myself that I am a product of great teachers, great leaders and altruistic individuals who worked hard to champion opportunity and success in my life. I work daily to empower others to realize the significance of our roles day to day with young people. It is my sincere belief that relationships and leadership matter.”