By Elizabeth Osterhaus
When Billy Epting took the job as principal at Leon High School, he had no idea how much the job would come to affect him.
Epting grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, where he attended Wolfson High School. He later went to college at Stetson University in Deland, Florida where he received a Bachelors degree in mathematics.
Epting really wanted to be a Navy pilot. Through all of his years of college, being a Navy pilot was his goal. He passed all the educational tests and was set to go into the Navy until he had his Navy physical.
During the physical, Epting was told he could not go into the Navy because of an injury he got during his freshman year of college. During his freshman year, he broke his ankle playing basketball. He had to have pins put in it.
This news made Epting stop and think about what else he wanted to do. He decided to go back to school at Florida State University to obtain a degree in academic leadership.
Since both Epting’s father and grandfather were high school principals, he thought he would go into the education field. Epting graduated from FSU and started his teaching career at Wakulla High School in 1986.
Epting then became the first middle school principal at Holy Comforter Episcopal School in Tallahassee, Florida, a position he held for five years. After that, he held the position of assistant principal at Leon High School for two years.
Epting then left Leon to became principal of Canopy Oaks Elementary School in Tallahassee, Florida. After two years at Canopy Oaks, Epting came back to Leon as principal. He was hired after Rocky Hanna left.
Out of all the schools where Epting has worked, Leon is his favorite by far. He enjoys high school students.
When he was principal of Canopy Oaks, he would come home every day with snot all over his pants because the elementary children would constantly be hugging him. He loved being around them but did not like what they left behind. He also says middle school children are most of the time really moody because they are “still trying to figure themselves out.”
“I like being the principal of high schoolers the most because I am able to give the students the tools to make good decisions and watch them apply those tools because they are almost (if not already) adults,” Epting said.
Epting says that a good day for him at Leon High School includes having electricity, students getting to class on time, not having many substitute teachers, no students fighting with the teachers or each other and not having to chase students during lunch because they are trying to go off campus when they should not be.
Epting also says his favorite part about being principal at Leon is simply the interaction he has with students on a day-to-day basis. When he can, he likes walking the halls while students are switching classes. This way he feels like he can be a little more in touch with the students.
Epting also loves the diversity at Leon High School. When he was principal at Holy Comforter, most of the students who attended were of the same ethnicity and background. According to Epting, in order to have a truly well rounded experience and the best education possible, students need to experience diversity in their school.
Epting’s love for Leon is what makes his job so enjoyable. He hopes that if students only ever learn one thing about Leon High, it is that he could not be more thrilled that you chose to attend.