The Pillar of St. Peter Claver: Rondo resident dedicates life to helping children

For nearly 70 years, St Peter Claver Catholic School has been an anchor in St. Paul's African American community. But one of the products of this neighborhood institution has been a pillar of the school as well.

Lynn Wright has spent nearly half her life roaming these halls. As the scholar and family liaison, she is responsible for discipline.  But she is also there to lend a helping hand wherever she is needed.

"I love the kids. I love being around the kids. This is like home," said Wright.

The 74-year-old knows what it's like to be a student at this school.

She went to grade school here in the late '50s and early '60s, just as I-94 was being built from downtown Minneapolis to downtown St Paul.

The highway construction spared her family's house, but it ripped the heart out of the Rondo neighborhood, scattering hundreds of families and Black-owned businesses.

"We didn't really understand what was going on. I think I was in the eighth grade. So we didn't know they were displacing people. We didn't understand that part of it," said Wright.

Wright returned to St Peter Claver as a teacher's aide in the early 80s, until the school shut down at the end of the decade.

She came back after the school reopened in the late 90s and she hasn't left since.

"At my age, I don't want to sit at home. I enjoy what I'm doing. When you live in the same neighborhood as most of the kids, you know their parents, you know their other relatives. So you know kind of what they go through," said Wright.

The slogan at the school is "We Are One Family', and for the people who learn and work here, Wright certainly fits the bill.

"She is the matriarch of Saint Peter Claver. She is the building. She is the people. Everyone's related to Miss Wright somehow. St. Paul is bad enough but like everyone is somehow related to her," said principal Terese Shimshock.

In fact, the highlight of Wright's day is having lunch with her granddaughter, who happens to teach 7th and 8th grade at the school.

"We laugh. We talk about pretty much all kinds of stuff. I'll ask her when you went here, what was it like? "I think it's just been an amazing blessing for me and for not only myself but for the kids as well. I think a lot of kids think of her as a second grandma," said her granddaughter Araya Smith.

Wright isn't sure how much longer she'll continue to work...

But when it comes to leaving a legacy for future generations, Wright can't go wrong.

"I said I'll give it another year and we'll see what happens. So I'll give it another year and then we'll see how it goes. Who knows?" said Wright.