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EPIC Principal of the Year one of ‘original 30’ teachers

EPIC Charter Schools Principal of the Year Adam Wilhelm. [PROVIDED]
EPIC Charter Schools Principal of the Year Adam Wilhelm. [PROVIDED]
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When Adam Wilhelm speaks about his love of education, his passion is undeniable. His face lights up with excitement when he recounts stories of igniting a love of learning in the hundreds of students he has taught over the years.

When the nine-year EPIC Charter Schools veteran educator recently was named EPIC's Principal of the Year, it came as a shock to no one.

One of the “original 30” founding EPIC teachers, the hockey-playing, AmeriCorps volunteer and bona fide math aficionado started teaching pre-calculus to high school students at the age of 19 as a sophomore at Northeastern University in Boston. He’s been an educator ever since, yet it wasn’t the path he had planned for himself.

“I never really thought I would be in education,” Wilhelm said, “but there’s just something natural about it. I can put myself in other people’s shoes, see where they are coming from and help them tap into their passion.”

EPIC parent Christy Moore agrees wholeheartedly with Wilhelm’s ability to find a student’s passion. Her son, Seth, was Wilhelm’s student for six years. She said he helped her son overcome his struggle with math and improve all around academically. Seth went from making D’s and F’s in his traditional school to making A’s and B’s under Wilhelm’s care.

“He put in so many hours with my son alone, not to mention all of his other students,” she said. “How he had any kind of personal life, I don’t know.”

A self-proclaimed workaholic, Wilhelm is a husband and father of three boys and places a great deal of value on family, especially when it comes to its role in education. He said building a relationship with families is part of his “three-legged stool” that includes families, teachers and students.

Building relationships with families made Wilhelm a successful EPIC teacher. Many families sought him out to be their educator.

“This is the one job that allows me to put on any hat I want,” he said. “I can be educator, leader, friend and dreamer, anything I need to be to inspire people to find that passion of who they are and what drives them.”

He doesn’t teach as much as he used to but now spends his days inspiring some 24 teachers and, through them, about 1,000 students to be successful. One of those teachers is Leisha Albaugh, also one of the “original 30.” She said Wilhelm’s transition to principal from teacher was seamless.

“We’ve known each other for a long time, and he’s always been a great leader,” she said. “He respects my students and the work I’m doing with them. He’s driven by what is best for our kids, and that what’s best for one student might not be the same as another. He doesn’t try to put them in a box.”

For Wilhelm, becoming Principal of the Year was a shared award, one that grew out of years of hard work, a supportive team and having a supportive principal himself.

“My principal allowed me to grow and be myself, and that’s the kind of principal I wanted to be,” he said. “Being Principal of the Year is a tremendous honor but it comes from being surrounded by a fantastic team of exceptional educators. I’m just the one steering the ship. I like helping.”

As the post-award dust settles for Wilhelm, he said he plans to continue to find ways to help everyone in his life find their passion, which is something he certainly did for his former student, Seth Moore. The Oklahoma State University freshman has plans to pursue computer science.

Not bad for a student who struggled with math for so long.

“He pushed my son and gave him the encouragement he needed,” Christy Moore said. “I will always remember Adam because he made such a huge difference in our lives. He’s part of our family.”

EPIC is the state’s third-largest public school system. It serves approximately 30,000 students statewide in the 2019-2020 school year and currently employs more than 1,100 certified teachers and principals in every county across the state. For more information, visit www.epiccharterschools.org.

This article is sponsored by EPIC Charter Schools.

Eddie Roach

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Epic Charter Schools

Epic Charter Schools are an accredited school system that serves students in all Oklahoma counties. The school is proudly sponsored by Rose State College to serve students in Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties. In addition, the school is sponsored by the Oklahoma Virtual Charter School Board to serve students statewide. Read more ›

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