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Wright takes charge

WINTON – Dr. William T. Wright Jr. was sworn in Tuesday as the new superintendent for Hertford County Public Schools.

During a special meeting of the Board of Education, Wright took the oath of office, conducted by Chief District Court Judge Brenda Branch, with his wife, Mary Barnes Wright, holding the Bible.

After the ceremony, Wright said, “Hertford County has received me very well. Everybody has been very good to me here. I look forward to living and working here and we’re only an hour and a half from both our families.”

He also said they will be moving into their new home next week.

He told the audience of mostly educators that he looks forward to getting to work.

“I’m not going to do this work alone,” Wright said. “We’re going to do this work together. I hope to lead in this process.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that we have great people working here in Hertford County,” said Wright. “We’re here to make these students better. They’re why we’re all going to work together collectively.”

Wright added, “The students have to know that the environment they are a part of is always focused on learning. We talk to students every day about what they learned today.

“I’m excited,” he said. “It’s an awesome opportunity.”

All the board members commented positively about Wright and wished him good luck.

Wright said he likes to go into the school regularly where he can speak directly to principals, teachers, staff, students, and parents about what works and what doesn’t to make each school more effective for learning.

He said when first introduced to the public in October that his leadership style is the “Triple A” – Ask, Assess, and Analyze – working with all interested parties in and out of the school district.

“I have a child-centered focus,” said Wright, “and will be going out into the community, churches, and local businesses to keep everyone informed about what we’re doing and to find out what they’re thinking.”

Board Chairwoman Sheila Porter presented a brief biographical sketch of Wright. She said that he comes from the Swift Creek community in the northern part of Nash County.

She said, “Dr. Wright is a 1983 graduate of Northern Nash High School in Rocky Mount and, at the time of his graduation, was the youngest graduate in the school’s history at 16 years of age.”

He was a broadcaster and manufacturing manager before becoming a teacher at Edwards Junior High School in Rocky Mount.

Six years later, he became principal of South Edgecombe Middle School in Pinetops, the school’s first ever African-American principal.

He later became principal of Western Harnett High School in Lillington before being named assistant superintendent for auxiliary services for Harnett County Schools in 2011.

He was unanimously named superintendent for McCormick County, SC in 2013.

Wright has a bachelor’s in Business Administration from Wesleyan in Rocky Mount, a master’s in School Administration from NC State University (2004), and then a doctorate in education from NCSU.

He is married to Mary Barnes Wright. They both attended Northern Nash High School at the same time, though they didn’t date in high school.

They have been married for 25 years and have two sons: William III (Trey) who is an educator in Greenwood, SC; and Mariam “Deonte” who will graduate from Piedmont Technical College in Greenwood in December 2015.

Mrs. Wright is a medical records coder for Wake Medical Center, work she can do from home.

Wright is also minister of music at Union Hill Baptist Church in Nashville, NC and is an ordained deacon.

He said after the School Board meeting that his desire for Hertford County is to bring excitement back to county for education.

“I’m doer,” he said. “I will have a hands-on administration and stay involved in the community.”

Wright said he is a product of a school district very similar to Hertford County and will work very hard to eliminate the district’s significant reading gaps, which are shared by many school districts in this region.

“I’m going to work with our at-risk students,” Wright said. “We’re going to work with them to instill confidence so more of our students will graduate and succeed.”