Mr. Jim Wilfhart has been putting the fun in the fundamentals of learning for more than three decades at Read Elementary School in Oshkosh. Over those years he has become a comedic and even musical staple in the district. Local 5’s Brittany Falkers takes you inside his zany classroom in this month’s Terrific Teacher. 

“I do try to create an element of surprise,” Wilfahrt said when asked about his teaching style. “Humor, I think I have a funny side at times. Some of the jokes are funny, but they’ve all been trained to laugh whether they are funny or not.”

In Mr. Wilfahrt’s 5th-grade classroom humor is expected in every lesson, but often times so is music.  With a background in polka and a family of concertina players, he uses his skills to add life to learning.  

When Local 5 visited his classroom he used his harmonica skills and a little tune on the concertina to aid in a math lesson on dimensions. 

“I have a real soft spot for the concertina and the polka music genre,” he said. 

Wilfahrt has made a lasting impression on his students, their parents, and the Oshkosh community over his 34 years at Read Elementary. 

“The biggest things they say is that he’s cool and funny.  He makes them laugh every day, but he’s also the first person they can trust when they feel sad and alone,” School Councilor Wendy Falk said. 

Wilfahrt has managed to create quite a collection along the walls of his classroom with toys he has brought in and pieces of Read Elementary’s history.  However, Falk says that it’s the relationships and memories that are his greatest collection.

“He doesn’t just have this collection on a shelf. He literally has the best collection of students and that collection is his true legacy that he is leaving behind,” she said. 

While Wilfahrt says that a lot has changed in teaching and his classroom antics have calmed, a bit, he is still making those lasting connections in his classroom. 

“The kids are about the same. The parents are just as great as ever,” he said. “Yeah, I do miss them. I’m becoming a little bit more sensitive as I grow older to that and not taking it for granted.”

After three decades in teaching and more years to come Wilfahrt has some advice for new teachers to make it through the ups and downs of education.  

“You have to stick it out. It’s a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of headaches, but with a sense of humor you can get through hardships easier,” Wilfahrt said. 

If you know a teacher who goes above and beyond in the classroom nominate them to be our next Terrific Teacher.  Just email Brittany Falkers at