Joy Wright ’95

Joy Wright '95DEGREE: B.A. in American studies; M.A.T., Brown University; M.Ed. in educational leadership, University of Connecticut

JOB TITLE: Lead learner/principal of King Philip Middle School (KP), West Hartford, Connecticut

FAVORITE TRINITY MEMORY: Every event (parties, meetings, casual get-togethers) at the Umoja House on Vernon Street was a memorable experience. The house served as a home away from home with the opportunity to connect with other students in formal and informal ways that fed my soul. 

What path did you take to become a school principal? After earning my B.A. at Trinity, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. I obtained my M.A.T. from Brown and my Connecticut teaching credential and worked as a high school English teacher. As a result of working with colleagues on curriculum and advising student clubs/activities, I was encouraged by teacher leaders and my administrators to consider becoming a school administrator. After serving as an assistant principal for five years at Two Rivers Magnet Middle School in East Hartford, I pursued my first principalship at a middle school in Wallingford and tried my hand as a high school assistant principal before joining KP eight years ago as the lead learner/principal.  

What do you enjoy most about your work? In this role, I work with parents/caregivers, staff, and students in various ways. No day is the same, and anytime I can work with students is the highlight of my day. 

You were named the 2020 Connecticut Middle School Principal of the Year. What does that honor mean to you? I am beyond excited and also humbled by the opportunity to represent KP, my district, the Connecticut Association of Schools, and Connecticut as the middle school principal of the year. This award means so much because I do everything I can to meet my school community’s needs. This award reflects the collaborative efforts of staff, families, and students to create a community focused on student success, staff wellness, and community engagement. This award is a result of our consistent focus on what matters most. 

How has your work changed with the COVID-19 pandemic? This experience is not anything we were trained to handle. Still, while the pandemic is new, we have always been charged with creating and supporting structures and protocols that protect and promote our students’ and staff’s physical and emotional well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic has added a different dimension to this work.  

How did your time at Trinity prepare you for what you do now? My time at Trinity focused on critical thinking, communicating effectively, and collaborating across various disciplines and groups. Whether it was a class experience or my work in TCBWO (Trinity College Black Women’s Organization), as a resident assistant, or with Imani, all of these experiences provided me with the skills that support my work as a school leader now. 

What was the most memorable course you took at Trinity? There are so many courses that I loved at Trinity, particularly those in my major. However, if I have to choose one, it would be an African American history course with Cheryl Greenberg. The opportunity to delve into African Americans’ experience throughout U.S. history provided me with important context to the other courses in my major. It deepened my understanding and helped me improve as a student. I also had the opportunity to serve as a teaching assistant for this course, which reinforced my desire to teach.  

Was there a professor at Trinity who was particularly influential? I enjoyed all of the professors I had at Trinity. However, over my four years, Gail Woldu stands out as one of the most influential professors on my professional and personal being. She was my first-year seminar professor and never stopped being a mentor during my time there. She has high standards centered on academic and personal excellence and also provides the guidance and support needed to help you meet or exceed them. She is firm in her conviction and doesn’t hold back from the truth to make you your best self as a student and a person. She is why I traveled abroad and why I encourage every student I meet to do the same.