Ferdinand Wipachit is entering his 14th year as the superintendent (principal) of Phoenix Military Academy (PMA), where he has led tremendous growth in academic and school outcomes. Under his leadership, enrollment has doubled, growing from 250 to 531 cadets in the most recent school year, and PMA has maintained a Level 1+ rating on the district’s School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) since 2011. Overall, PMA has grown from the lowest performing CPS high schools to one of the best in the district.
With nine Advanced Placement (AP) programs, PMA provides a rigorous curriculum for its students in addition to ACT/SAT prep courses and career development support. Moving forward, one of Ferdinand’s priorities is to continue building AP success in Chemistry and Calculus.
Ferdinand grew up in Bangkok, Thailand, before relocating to Chicago with his family during high school. After graduation, he joined the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program in the Department of Military Science with a two-year scholarship. In 1992, he began his education career as a science teacher for chemistry, physics, AP biology and physical science. He served as the assistant principal for Benito Juarez High School for three years and the assistant principal for Foreman High School for two years before taking his current role at PMA. Ferdinand holds a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from DePaul University in addition to his bachelor’s degree in botany and plant biology from University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He has also earned several certifications from Harvard University and participated in the CPS Mentor Principal program, assisting six new principals and principal interns.
Ferdinand believes that a continued focus on AP success and content area vertical alignment will contribute to increased academic achievement for all students. He looks forward to networking with other CPS principals during the Fellowship experience and learning from their best practices.