Louisville woman with down syndrome teaches life lessons to students

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jill Wright is the assistant director of theatre at Mercy Academy. She’s also the first assistant director in the history of the school to have down syndrome. 

“I have a disability,” Wright said. “We aren’t different. We just have 21 chromosomes…you guys have 20.”

Wright takes her job seriously, helping lead her students in improvisational drills, grading assignments, and doing anything she can to help theatre director Amanda Simmons. 

“It’s a lot but I love it,” Wright said. “This is my Mercy family and go Jags!” 

Wright participated in theatre when she attended Mercy, approaching Simmons before graduation to tell her she was the right person for the job.

“So at the end of the year, Jill came and she said, ‘I would like to work with you,’ cause she was graduating and I said, ‘Yes, of course,’ and I went to my principal and she said, ‘Yes, of course,’ so there was like no questions,” Simmons said.

Since then, Wright has been on go. In the midst of her hard work at Mercy, Jill is known for always smiling and maintaining a positive attitude. The way she treats others is what stands out to her students. 

 “She teaches us to be kind to each other because when Jill walks in she always has a smile on her face, she’s never said anything negative or bad she’s just filled with love and kindness and she just wants to make sure everyone else feels the same way,” said Helen Holloway, one of Jill’s students. 

“She adds a layer of passion into the class that I think every class needs that,” Savannah Bloom, another student, said.

Wright’s not just positive – she’s also talented. She performs sign language at local concerts and takes part in school plays at Mercy. She also gives her students the kind of encouragement anyone would wish for.  

“You guys could change the world. I believe in you,” Wright said. “I’m so proud, to be your teacher, to be your mentor, just wow!”

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