A former professional basketball player, police officer and teacher, New Jersey’s Reggie Wright is living proof that setting goals works and is inspiring students to work hard and achieve their dreams too by teaching them key life skills.
Wright, an East Brunswick Police Department officer, is committed to giving back to the community that he credits with guiding him to make the right life choices.
Instead of walking the beat, he is now acting as a role model to 600 fifth-grade students, teaching them life skills each week at eight different schools in a new educational program.
His goal? To teach kids about what he learned in life outside of the classroom.
“So basketball kind of guided me — growing up in the city of Trenton, there was so much that kind of derailed me,” Wright said.
Officer Wright credited basketball as having a positive impact on his life, keeping him from making bad choices and motivating him to work hard in school.
He went on to play professional ball in Europe before eventually coming back home and setting his sights on a career in law enforcement after talking with a friend in the field.
“I was always thinking ahead. So I always had the end in mind. Where do I want to be? I said man, here’s a peer of mine who looks like me. That’s going to have a positive impact within the community,” he said.
Now, he is inspiring the youth to follow their own dreams.
“He taught me this saying, show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future, so I’ve been thinking very carefully about who I’m friends with and who I’m not friends with,” said one of Wright’s students, Aditya Bhattacharjw.
Wright said he already sees that students have more belief in themselves.
“The curriculum talks about setting reachable goals, making responsible decisions, managing your emotions, the effectiveness of communication and the influence of the peer group,” Wright explained.
The curriculum was designed as part of the Jersey-based community engagement program Law Enforcement Against Drugs and Violence. After resonating with the material, Wright pitched it to schools.
Students are already learning how to be better people under Wright’s guidance.
“My favorite thing I like getting taught is respect — it tells me how to respect others, it tells me how other people respect me,” student Michal Jankowski said.