Peace Corps Inspires Science Interest


Mia Jay, Staff Writer

While Patrick Wildermuth has been a science teacher for 17 years at Campolindo, he first discovered his passion for science while teaching math to children in Africa through the Peace Corps.  During his service in Africa, Wildermuth befriended science teachers in the program and soon realized he enjoyed their subject more than his own.

“When I joined the Peace Corps, they wanted teachers, and they asked if I could teach math, and so I did. But, my other Peace Corps friends that were teaching science were having way more fun than I was. So, when I finished with the Peace Corps, and decided that teaching was kind of fun. I went back to college and got a credential for life science and biology and chemistry,” said Wildermuth.

After the Peace Corps, Wildermuth taught in Tampa, Florida before moving to the Bay Area, where he 1st taught at Lowell High School in San Francisco.  After a stint at Piedmont High School, Wildermuth was offered a position at Campolindo.  The move into the Acalanes Union High School District was particularly convenient for Wildermuth as his husband was already working at Miramonte at the time.

This year, Wildermuth teaches both Living Earth and Environmental science courses.  He is also in his 6th year as the poultry club adviser.  The club takes care of the chickens that are 1st hatched in his Living Earth classes.

Living Earth is a new course with new curriculum for freshmen. Wildermuth said he enjoys working on new materials, and enjoys collaborating with his science department colleagues in developing new experiments.

One of Wildermuth’s favorite things to teach is the biology of skin color. “It is so important that we understand why we all have different skin colors. There is a real reason for it that has nothing to do with racism or anything like that. There is no good skin color or bad skin color,” he said.

He also enjoyed the autobiography project that he assigned his students. “I learned things about my students that I would have never known otherwise. They got to share a little bit of themselves with me, and it was nice that I did it 2nd semester because I actually knew who I was reading about. It made it more meaningful.”

Wildermuth’s autobiography project included students writing paragraphs explaining their cultural heritage, and their connections with older generations within their family.  It included intervening genetics and genealogy.

One of his students, Emmeline Miller, said “The autobiography project was very interesting assignment because in the process of the project, we found out a lot about ourselves, and when we turned it in, it was a chance for Mr. Wildermuth to see us as more than just students and see us as actual people.”

Wildermuth’s hobbies include reading and gardening. He spends a lot of time in the campus garden. He loves to take his students to the garden for labs, so that they can be exposed to nature in real life, not just on paper.

Wildermuth said that he loves working at Campolindo. “It’s the exact type of school that I think I fit in very, very well at.”

“Mr. Wildermuth is really nice, and he cares a lot about his students,” said Leila Stoll, a student of Wildermuth’s.