On We Go: BUSD and Community Welcomes Superintendent, Dr. Damon Wright (Ed.D.)
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” -President Barack Obama
On May 18, 2022, the Benicia Unified School District (BUSD) Board of Trustees selected Dr. Damon Wright as the District’s new Superintendent, effective July 1, 2022. Following an extensive search and selection process lasting over four months, the board unanimously agreed to move Dr. Wright forward in the approval process. Dr. Wright came before the board during the May 26 regularly scheduled school board meeting. He succeeds Superintendent Dr. Charles Young, who retired on June 30, 2022.
The hiring of a new school superintendent can be a lengthy event.
The approval process included a validation visit to Dr. Wright’s former school district, Fairfield Suisun Unified School District. Dr. Wright received gleaming reviews from colleagues, from the Superintendent to the Executive Assistants, including certificated and classified staff members, union presidents for certificated and classified staff members, site administrators, and District Office Directors. Staff members described their experiences working with Dr. Wright: “personable, transparent, thoughtful, supportive, problem solver, organized, understands and supports athletics, and professional.”
Dr. Wright is not new to the Benicia community, having served as a former Principal at Benicia High School.
His current role is the Director of Human Resources for Fairfield Suisun Unified School District. He has held other positions, such as the Executive Director of Secondary Education in Napa Valley Unified School District and formerly in San Ramon Valley Unified School District and San Diego Unified School District.
Dr. Wright has great plans as the new Superintendent and shared some ideas for his first 100 days in office with goals and action steps moving forward, such as meeting regularly with school board members, school site leadership, certificated and classified staff, students, parents and the community of Benicia. Dr. Wright also has plans to ensure communication, transparency, and organizational effectiveness for BUSD, which includes school safety and student achievement.
Dr. Wright answered three critical questions about the recruitment and retention of educators and his inspiration as an educator as the District prepares for the 2022-23 school years:
Q: What do you hope to accomplish as Superintendent for BUSD?
A: BUSD is an outstanding District and has historically provided exceptional programs for students. As Superintendent, I want to continue the tradition of excellence through a holistic approach to education. I first want to expand upon the existing relationships within our community and industry partners. Our stakeholders are essential, and we want to increase their active participation in District programs. Enculturating equity and social-emotional learning practices throughout our District is vital to programmatic growth. Reflecting on my tenure as Superintendent of BUSD, I want to see substantial progress in closing opportunity gaps, particularly in literacy and STEAM. While BUSD students achieve high levels and are socially adjusted, we are responsible for providing structures and programs inclusive of ALL students.
Q: When did you first discover your desire to become an educator?
A: I had an epiphany while working as a Probation Officer in correctional institutions. Engaging in conversations with inmates/detainees was part of my practice. In our discussions, most inmates/detainees attributed grade school experiences as catalysts for incarceration. I wanted to serve on the other side of the “school-to-prison pipeline” by supporting individuals in their freedom. I immediately enrolled in a graduate program and earned my Master’s in School Counseling.
Q: What can be done to encourage more young people, especially males, to enter the education field?
A: School districts must take the initiative and actively search, find and encourage young people to enter the profession. Public education is experiencing teacher shortages that are impacting classrooms across the country. What was once a challenge to recruit teachers who matched ethnic, gender, and linguistic demographics, is now a challenge to find people entering the profession. School districts can shift this paradigm by establishing “grow your own programs.” Districts can recruit, support, and mentor prospective candidates into considering a career in public education.
Dr. Wright’s extensive education includes a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Brandman University, a Master of Science in School Counseling from National University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from California State University, Sacramento.