District names headquarters to honor former superintendent

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The district’s headquarters at 9400 North Central Expressway is now officially the Linus D. Wright Dallas ISD School Administration Building. A naming ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 26, honored Wright’s achievements.

Wright was Dallas ISD superintendent from 1978–1987. His support for schoolchildren continued as he served as Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, was a consultant to boards of education and school districts, an adjunct professor and served on several community and education organizations.

“Linus is one of those people that everyone in the city thinks positively of,” Dallas ISD District 2 Trustee Dustin Marshall said. “When I decided to get involved in politics, Linus was one of the people I sought out to meet with.” Wright hand-wrote letters supporting Marshall’s campaign as well.

Marshall read a letter from Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath congratulating the district for choosing to put Wright’s name on its administration building.

Community members Dalene and John Buhl advocated to have the building named to honor Wright.

“Having begun his teaching career nearly 70 years ago in 1949 after serving in World War II, Linus rose in five years to become the youngest assistant superintendent in Texas,” Dalene Buhl said. “Linus has never wavered in leading academic achievement innovations.”

She said Wright enacted the first teacher performance-pay initiative and took the district from a $0 fund balance to financial solvency. That work positioned Dallas ISD as a national leader for student academic achievement among urban districts in the 1980s, she said.

With Wright’s name on the building, some schoolchildren who see it will research the man behind it.

“They might just be inspired to be just like Linus when they grow up,” Buhl said.

John Buhl joked that it’s easier to list what Wright hasn’t accomplished in his career, including having never been President of the United States and not inventing the light bulb. Wright was, Buhl said, involved in the push for statewide kindergarten, no pass/no play and hiring women in top leadership positions when it wasn’t something that was done.

Current Superintendent Michael Hinojosa recalled being a teacher and coach while Wright led the district. Wright was respected at the school level because of the way he carried himself and the contributions he gave to the district.

Hinojosa said it took a special person to navigate the politically charged climate of the 1980s, when integration was beginning – someone who could work with the board, the staff and the community to move forward with all the groups’ respect.

Another important initiative Wright began was Alternative Certification to fill in the gaps where there weren’t enough college graduates earning teaching degrees. Many of those teachers became principals and great leaders in the district. Wright’s impact as a person of integrity has lingered, Hinojosa said.

“I remember, sitting at the old Ross building where he was superintendent, and I had to deal with a few initials, like the FBI,” Hinojosa said. “And I would sit there, ‘What would Linus do?’”

Wright’s name can serve to inspire students and their families who enter the building, he said, including those new to the country who visit the Intake Center.

“They’ll see your name and the inspiration that you’ve brought to the community,” Hinojosa said.

After Hinojosa and Chief of Staff Pamela Lear unveiled a portrait of Wright, the man himself took to the podium.

Linus Wright said that in his 50 years in education, his time in Dallas was the most memorable. He said he was thankful for the friends who had supported him along the way.

“Education is the only tool, and the most powerful tool, for changing the world,” he said. “That’s what we’re about, all of us, trying to change the world for the better.”

He said he hoped that the people who occupy the building in the future continue to have Hinojosa’s passion and continue making the best decisions for children.

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