Why I Give: ‘NC State University Produces Some of the Best Teachers. I Want to Make Sure They Continue to Do That,’ Says 5th Grade Teacher Bria Cofield Wright ’16, ’19MED
Editor’s Note: This is part of a monthly “Why I Give” series in which NC State College of Education alumni, students, faculty and staff share why they support the college.
A fifth grade English Language Arts and social studies teacher at Hortons Creek Elementary School, Bria Cofield Wright ’16, ’19MED wanted to deepen her ability to support her students. Being awarded the Ragland Foundation Teaching and Leading Literacy Scholarship and the Moshakos Family Teacher Education Graduate Fellowship from the NC State College of Education made that possible. Because of that support, she earned her master’s degree in New Literacies and Global Learning from the NC State College of Education. That support also inspired her to give back and become a donor to the college herself.
In the Q&A below, she talks about why she became a teacher, what she hopes students learn from her and why she supports the college. The following is edited for length and clarity.
Why did you become a teacher?
I wanted to become a teacher because I had a lot of negative schooling experiences and I didn’t want kids to have that. I felt the best way to do that was to be a teacher.
I also come from a family of educators. My biggest inspiration in life was my grandma, whom I call Mawmaw. She was a teacher for years and years in Charlotte. Her impact on me really made me want to go in the classroom and be an influence like she was in her classroom.
What led you to teach English Language Arts and social studies?
The classes that I found to be the most exciting for me were my literature and my humanities classes, and my methods classes on those subjects. I really like being able to see the light bulb moment that kids have when either teaching them to read or teaching them to understand what they’re reading.
And I really enjoy being able to teach social studies because there’s a lot of inaccurate information out there. Helping kids be able to navigate, figure out and draw conclusions on their own about what actually is our history is what drew me to teaching history.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
Developing relationships with my students beyond just the classroom. Going to extracurricular events, getting to know my students outside of the classroom and seeing them develop into awesome little human beings is the coolest part of my job.
Why did you choose to attend the NC State College of Education?
It felt like a small school within a big school, and it felt like a small family within the bigger NC State family. NC State really reached out and wanted me to be there. [Associate Dean for Student Success and Strategic Community Engagement] Anona Smith-Williams invited me on campus before Decision Day. She had me meet different people, get to know the campus, experience what the College of Education was all about and preview the college.
At NC State, I felt like I had a place here — I was wanted here and I was valued here. The size of the elementary education department and how it was broken up into a cohort model — we were able to stay with the same people throughout our whole experience — was also a big draw for me.
What role did financial support play in your education?
Without the support of scholarships, graduate school would not have been possible. I’m really thankful that I had that opportunity. Scholarships helped take some of the burden off of my family. My husband and I were able to pay our mortgage, pay for daycare and pay our bills. It really helped to be able to take away that financial stress and be able to focus on my learning and not have to pick up a side job on top of grad school, working full time and being a full-time mommy and wife.
You not only received support when you are a student, but you are also now a donor to the NC State College of Education. Why do you give to the college?
Because I think it’s important to continue to make sure that the College of Education is a strong community and a strong place so that we can make sure we continue to produce the best teachers possible in North Carolina. I need to make sure that the teachers that’ll teach my children are prepared and that the future teachers in the college right now will be in classrooms when my children are in school. I want to make sure that the best possible teachers are in front of every single child. NC State University produces some of the best teachers. I want to make sure the university continues to do that.
Why did you choose education?
I chose education because our future depends on it. In more ways than one — our future lawmakers, our future environmentalists — everything depends on strong teachers in front of students every single day.