Alan C. Wilkins, a talented musician always seeking to inspire a diverse population of music lovers, is a devoted music teacher at Hedgepeth-Williams Middle School of the Arts in Trenton, NJ. Wilkins, who carries all of his passion for music from the stage to the classroom, sees arts education as an important piece of a larger learning composition.
For context, it’s worth noting a Supreme Court decision that preceded the famous case of Brown vs. Board of Education. The school where Wilkins teaches was transformed by a case known as Hedgepeth and Williams vs. Board of Education in Trenton, NJ. Commonly referred to as the Hedgepeth–Williams case, a 1944 New Jersey Supreme Court decision in a legal action brought by two mothers, Gladys Hedgepeth and Berline Williams, paved the way for promoting racial equality in school systems across the nation. Once a segregated school, today the Hedgepeth-Williams Middle School of the Arts, located at 301 Gladstone Avenue in Trenton, stands as a story of triumph; using the arts to shape the minds of 6th through 8th graders.
“Arts integration bridges the gap between different cultures and languages and helps to work both sides of the brain,” said Wilkins. “Overall, it gives kids a deeper understanding of the world around them and makes it easier to express themselves.”
Having dabbled in music since the of age 5, Wilkins (now 30) has shared the stage with artists such as Sarah Dash, “Professor” Craig Hayes, Thomas Claybourne, Tye Tribbett, Bubby Fan, Donald Ashley, Chill Moody, Angie Stone, and Charles Jenkins. Singing in both children and adult choirs in church was one of his favorite past times. He finally picked up and settled on the saxophone at the age of 12 and has never put it down. A multi-instrumentalist, Wilkins also plays the keyboard as his secondary instrument.
Currently serving his fifth year as a Trenton Public School District educator, Wilkins described his first teaching experience years ago before coming to Trenton as overwhelming. In fact, he recalls a time when someone iterated these words: “I see you as a performer, not a teacher.”
“At the time it was hurtful, but today I use it as motivation,” Wilkins noted. After coming to Trenton, it was a new world; “a perfect fit,” as he put it. He developed tough skin, learned new skills and continued to stick with teaching in concert with music and family obligations.
Today, beyond the joy of being fulfilled, beyond winning the ‘Teacher of the Year Award’ in 2018 and beyond his gift of music that keeps on giving, Wilkins continues to sow into the lives of young Trentonians; inspiring them to tune out negativity, love music, and dream big.