The 2019 National Leadership conference was held on June 29 in San Antonio, Texas, and honors for California Businessperson of the Year went to Jill Wright.
The award was for “Adult Education Instructor with the Colusa County Office of Education, Career Technical Education and the Business and Industry Representative on the California FBLA Board of Directors.” While that description is apt, it was a small token of the many years of dedication to helping students enter the professional world.
Alumni from Maxwell High School who have taken any business courses or were active in the FBLA will likely recognize Wright’s name. She was a teacher at Maxwell for 33 years in vocational education.
Wright had an active FBLA chapter in Maxwell, teaching there since 1981, yet continued helping after she retired. Wright was then asked to fill a position on the California FBLA Board of Directors in 2014.
Students who benefited from Wright’s accounting and office software classes were not limited to teenagers. After retiring from the high school, Wright went on to teach adults attending the Colusa County of Education Village’s Adult Career Technical Education. It was, as Wright said, “an opportunity for me to continue in a different role, teaching adults.”
Wright, humbled by the experience, also realized that recognition is also a part of the job.
“I don’t really like to be in the spotlight; it’s not really my thing,” said Wright. “I guess I have to set a good example and represent Colusa County.”
A high school student from Wright’s accounting and computer applications class, who learned Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, reported back to Wright that she used those skills in college and in her job in the White House. The student had created a spreadsheet that was requested directly by President Barack Obama.
As her teacher, Wright lightheartedly joked that her class played a role in the legislative act getting passed, “We were kind of teasing that her Excel skills is what helped to pass Obamacare.”
All joking aside, Wright is very proud of her students and celebrates their achievements.
“I’ve had students that have gone out and they’ve applied for jobs; they’re now employed,” said Wright. “It’s nice to see that their hard work has paid off.”
Technology may change, and Wright will be the first to say that her students are often tech savvy, but it is her experience that she uses to steer her students to stay on the correct track. “A lot of times I would kind of tease that I’d have to stay two steps ahead of my students and a lot of times they taught me, and they still do,” Wright said.
Wright has received many awards during her career, including 2007 FBLA Advisor of the Year for California and 2012 Tri-Counties (Colusa, Sutter, and Yuba counties) ROP Instructor of the Year.
The FBLA Businessperson of the year for 2019 award will be displayed in her office. But plaques and crystal trophies are not the real rewards, according to Wright. “Teaching is a pretty tough job but it’s very, very rewarding. I wouldn’t have changed anything,” Wright said. ■