Reginald Wright took an indirect route to teaching — but it was one that led him to a career he loves.
“Every day is a new day,” Wright said in a recent interview with Studies Weekly.
Wright works as an instructional coach for 6th through 8th graders at Aldine Middle School in Houston, Texas.
“Even if they don’t learn all the causes of the Civil War, at least they saw an African American man who is youngish and educated and loves his job, and loves them,” he added, explaining that often this example is not what his students experience at home.
“I am what they can be.”
Wright has been an educator for nine years now, but it wasn’t his first job out of college.
As a senior in high school, he dreamed of being a teacher. He was a member of the Texas Association of Future Educators and enjoyed tutoring at the nearby elementary. But as he headed into college and majored in political science, he got nervous about teaching as a career.
Instead, he graduated and went to work in the local attorney general’s office. It was depressing work, he says, and after a time he moved on and became an insurance adjuster. In that field he enjoyed the freedom of being his own boss. But again, he didn’t feel fulfilled. He got to the point where he dreaded going to work.
“There wasn’t any joy in it. It wasn’t fun. At the end of the day, it was just a job. And I wanted to be more than just successful, I wanted to be significant,” he said.
He recalled his high school days with TAFE, remembering the fun and fulfillment he felt then. So, he pursued a teaching license.
“When I decided to give teaching a try, it was the best decision I’ve made in my life. I love fostering a love for social studies and helping my students fall in love with it like I did,” Wright said.
He says he loves what he does every day.
But as any teacher knows, there are many challenges. Wright’s biggest struggle and passion is to get his students to see the potential they have. He can see it, but they cannot.
“A large portion of our students have not been inspired to dream, to imagine they can do great things in the future,” Wright said.
At the start of the school year, some of the students he serves do not read on the middle school grade level, which makes it difficult for them to understand the middle school social studies curriculum. To get them to this deeper level of learning, Wright and his fellow teachers heavily utilize scaffolding techniques.
“Before you can teach them how to analyze a political cartoon, you have to tell them what ‘analyze’ even means,” he explained.
To help his students understand these deeper concepts, at a reading level they can comprehend, he uses elementary-level Studies Weekly Social Studies publications. The students learn, analyze and process the historical information while also gaining valuable reading, literacy and vocabulary skills. Wright has been using Studies Weekly for about five years, and loves that it is aligned to Texas’ state standards.
“When I first saw Studies Weekly, I thought, ‘This is awesome.’ It’s not a huge textbook, so it’s not intimidating at all. My students can read it and highlight it, circle it and write on it. Then they can fold it, put it in their backpack, and take it home with them. It’s just the best product ever,” he added.
Aldine Middle School’s ESL students also use the Spanish versions so they can understand the concepts as they learn English.
“Online, they are able to read it in Spanish, and then as they go along, we can graduate them from Spanish to English,” he said.
Wright is a passionate educator, an awesome example of the many teachers out there making a significant difference for America’s children.
To learn how you can use Studies Weekly Social Studies in your classroom visit studiesweekly.com.