Living with his mother and younger brother on the same Queens, New York street as his grandmother, DeLeon Wright was raised amidst a family dynamic that he believes helped to shape the person he has become. Both women took an activist approach to his upbringing. His grandmother took him to church with her and instilled in him a sense of morality at an early age.
DeLeon’s mother closely watched over his education. When he entered first grade in the neighborhood public school and was placed in a low level English class with many other minority children, none of whom had taken a placement test, his mother sprang into action. After reading a poster for the principal in the school hallway, he was placed in the top class and remained in advanced classes throughout elementary school. DeLeon credits his first experiences with “tracking” for his interest in public schooling.
During fifth grade, he was admitted to Prep for Prep, a program that places gifted public school students in independent schools and provides them with college and career counseling. DeLeon worked diligently through the summers after fifth and sixth grade to prepare for his entrance to The Dalton School. There, this inquisitive and independent-minded child was thrilled to be learning in classrooms with other motivated students and interacting with teachers who related to him as mentors rather than as generals. His individuality encouraged rather than repressed, De Leon discovered an interest in theater, which he studied for four years.
DeLeon’s association with Prep for Prep continued through his high school years. He participated in its Leadership Development Summer Institute, run in conjunction with the Coro Foundation, and volunteered for Students Advocating for Young Children (SAYC), Prep for Prep’s community service organization. Head of SAYC for his final three years, DeLeon advocated for New York City’s children, ages 0-6, on issues that affect their welfare, such as housing and health care.
The Dalton School’s Director of College Counseling described DeLeon’s leadership style as follows: “One who naturally draws others to him, Del possesses an understated charisma, and his intelligent, circumspect approach to his obligations and activities makes him a natural point of reference in matters where a strong voice and clearly stated opinion help achieve consensus, move the discussion to a higher level, or in a more focused direction.”
DeLeon graduated from Amherst College with a BA in Theatre and currently works in education.