By Harry Colbert, Jr.
One of The Best Academy Charter School’s teachers recently had a pretty good week.
On May 21 Abdul Wright, an eighth grade language arts teacher, graduated with a master’s degree from Hamline University. For most, that would be the crowning achievement for a week … for a lifetime. For Wright it was a wonderful accomplishment, but the honor he may covet a little more is the one he received earlier in the week, naming him Minnesota Teacher of the Year. The award is given annually by an independent group of educators, government officials and businesspeople. Wright is the 52nd teacher to receive the award, but at 29 years of age he is the youngest to receive the honor, the first to do so while teaching at a charter school and he is the first African-American to be named the state’s top teacher.
“There are more than 50,000 educators who could have received this honor and I want to do my best to live up to my responsibility,” said Wright. “I’m just extremely humbled.”
Wright’s ascension to the state’s top educator may have been quick, but it was not always easy. A graduate of Edison High School in Minneapolis, Wright first attended Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Worthington, then moving on to Riverland Community College in Austin before attaining his bachelors from Concordia University in St. Paul.
Wright said his route to success can offer inspiration for his students and members of the community as well.
“I know all the struggles I had; the times I doubted myself,” said Wright. “But never give up. There are going to be people who will help you, but you’ve got to be able to help yourself. I also know all the people who believed in me.”
One of the people who helped Wright along the way was his colleague, Meghan Roegge. Roegge is the person who nominated Wright for the prestigious award.
“Mr. Wright embodies what it means to be a transformative teacher,” said Roegge in her letter nominating Wright.
Wright said his students were excited to learn of his award.
“They were so happy,” said Wright. “I love my babies. It (the award) was theirs from the beginning. I get to show that playing basketball and rapping are not the only ways to represent the community.”
As Minnesota’s Teacher of the Year, Wright will now be in the running for National Teacher of the Year.