Wright swaps student support for home life

Jackie Wright—a teacher, school administrator, and director of Student Support Services, retired at the end of the fall semester.

John Brown University is in the middle of interviewing candidates to serve in the same position Wright did, said Becky Lambert, registrar.

“About 30 people applied for the job,” Lambert said. “The University is interviewing three or four candidates. We hope to have a decision by early February.”

Although the position will soon be filled, the legacy Wright leaves at the school will not be forgotten.

Wright describes herself as a devoted animal lover. When there is a stray dog, she tries not to add it to her family of 22 dogs, but she often nurses the animals back to health.

As much as she enjoys her canine companions, she enjoys working with students, staff and faculty in the Education Department. From the age of 22, Wright taught in public schools for 30 years, in grade levels ranging from first to eighth.

“The fun of teaching was to be able to be a kid but have something valuable for the students to learn,” said Wright. “I look at each student and try to see what I could do for them individually.”

After 10 years after teaching, she served as the Oklahoma public school administrator. “Being in that position I could make changes and be able to find the best strategies the school needed,” said Wright.

Wright gained many accomplishments, but she is most proud of helping to raise money for a new cafeteria for the elementary school.

“The old cafeteria was just two deep freezers in the middle and poorly built tables and benches,” said Wright “I was happy to show the community the importance for something and have their help to get things done.”

Soon after Wright retired in early 2000, she felt God was leading her to be a reading specialist for John Brown University’s Student Support Services, when she came across the job listings.

Wright, then, received a promotion as director in Student Support Services. Student Support Services was so new she said she enjoyed building the program.

“The amount of growth in the program and seeing recruitment has been a great experience,” said Wright. “Starting off with only a few students, we now have the government cap of a 160 students, by word of mouth and involvement we have grown a significant amount.”

The most challenging experience for her in the beginning was learning about the JBU community and how the students interacted. Wright’s main philosophy over the years is “how can we serve them and help restructure to help the students.”

“The best moments would be seeing students start off as freshman and overcome the obstacles to be able to graduate,” said Wright. Her worst moments were when a student was not able to graduate and fulfill his or her own potential. Wright hopes that things continue to change and keep moving forward for Student Support Services.

Deborah Raiees-Dana, the current mathematical specialist, worked with Jackie since she was a student here at JBU and a tutor in the Student Support Services lab.

In the beginning when we were short staffed she would help us stay stress free with her sense of humor. “One day Jackie brought in a chicken in a box and asked us all to guess what was in the box, one had an idea so they didn’t guess. She eventually told us a chicken had fallen off of a truck so she brought it in. We were all shocked and laughed,” said Raiees-Dana.

After 40 plus years, Wright reached her second retirement. She looks forward to doing whatever she wants for a little while.

“Jackie’s main strength is her kindness, she is an introverted person, but she enjoys doing things for others,” said Raiees-Dana. Wright has a wonderful sense of humor with a great work ethic and a compassionate heart said Raiees-Dana.

“I have been able to give all I could and now is the perfect time to retire,” said Wright.