The Clinton, Missouri, native works full time as a technology integration specialist, coaches two sports and commands a signals company in the Army National Guard.
Somehow, Wiltfong also has time to work on a degree in the online Ed.S. in Educational Leadership, Principalship program at Arkansas State University. He is on track to complete the program in Fall 2020.
“I would like to become an administrator to make a difference and help change the tide of the shortages of teachers across the United States,” he said. “It is a looming issue. It’s nice to do a case study and see, from a leadership perspective, if there’s anything I can do to help.”
Wiltfong has made a habit out of making a difference. That’s why he needed an online program to return to college while working full-time at Waynesville R-VI School District in his home state.
Plus, he and his wife, Jenny, have a 5-year-old son, Sebastian. She teaches adult education in the same school district.
“It’s definitely the most ideal scenario for me to be able to get the degree,” he said. “That’s one of the main reasons I chose the program. I’m very busy, so it’s conducive to being able to complete assignments on my timeline.
“For the schools I looked at in Missouri, I was unable to find one that offered a 100% online format in educational administration. A-State being 100% online was accommodating for me being in the military and having a family.”
The timing also worked out well for Wiltfong. He was one of the first recipients of an A-State active duty military scholarship launched in December 2019.
“I had tuition assistance through the army, and then I received the military scholarship that they started two semesters ago,” he said. “I was blessed and very appreciative to have received it. I recently hit my 11-year mark in the service.”
Wiltfong played football and baseball in high school, which led him to pursue a career in education. He currently coaches middle school football and high school track.
“I had a couple of coaches who were my mentors,” he said. “I still have contact with them to this day. They played a vital role with the inspiration to follow education.”
After playing running back at Avila University for one year, Wiltfong transferred to Westminster College and continued his playing career with the Blue Jays for three more seasons. He was the first person in his immediate family to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Wiltfong enlisted in the Army National Guard in 2011 and graduated with a master’s degree in kinesiology and exercise science from Central Missouri University two years later. He enrolled at A-State in 2018 on the recommendation of one of his colleagues, who is an alumnus.
“The school district I am currently in has an aspiring administrator program,” he said. “It’s like an internship with current school district administrators. It has book studies and different professional learning opportunities. Not only does it provide theoretical knowledge, it also provides practical knowledge by allowing aspiring administrators to substitute for those who are out of the building.”
So far, Wiltfong said he has been able to apply the information he has learned in the online Ed.S. in Principalship program to his education career, and he has enjoyed the overall experience.
“The courses have challenged me to dive deeper,” he said. “A-State is extremely accommodating. Any email I send them, whether it’s about class or finances or any questions in regards to scheduling, they are quick to get back to me.”
Now that Wiltfong is close to completing the online program, he is excited about using the degree to continue making a difference in the world.
“The internet is a powerful resource and tool,” he said. “A-State did a great job with identifying the classes that you need. It’s the same thing I tell my soldiers — you control your own destiny. Always be proactive. Do your due diligence.”
Wiltfong believes that organization and time management are the biggest keys to success in earning a degree online and balancing college with other commitments.
“I mapped out when I was going to take my classes each semester and put it all on an Excel spreadsheet,” he said. “Once I complete a course, I highlight that row in green and the classes I haven’t taken in red. That way, I have that visual.”
On the rare occasion Wiltfong has some free time, he enjoys fishing on the Lake of the Ozarks and spending time with his family and friends. Perhaps he lets them in on the secret of how he has so much going on simultaneously.
“They’re definitely excited about me returning to school,” he said. “I am a humble individual, so I don’t try to broadcast it. Once I complete the degree, I won’t put it on social media.
“It’s more of a professional endeavor I had with the military helping to pay for it. Knowledge is power. I wanted to grow in that aspect.”‘
Learn more about the A-State online Ed.S. in Educational Leadership, Principalship program.