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Adventures of the Wilgubeast

Elliot Boz | eboz19@dtechhs.org | June 21, 2018
Photo by Evan Tung

Midway through college, Wade Wilgus realized that he wanted to be a teacher. “It was the best way to account for all of my personality flaws in a positive way,” d.tech’s beloved U.S. History teacher said. “I am prone to being over-enthusiastic; I am prone to being pedantic, where I over-explain stuff.” But here was a job where doing those two things was a good thing.

After graduating from Occidental College in Los Angeles, Wilgus applied to “Teach for America”, a program that creates a path for teachers to work at under resourced schools, and got a job teaching middle school in Fruitvale, Oakland. It would be the first swerve in a twisting, non traditional career path that ultimately led to d.tech.

Compared to d.tech, the school in Oakland had a lot less money. We had two classroom computers,” says Wilgus. “Also it was middle school, and those are the worst people who are alive.“

After three years, he decided to take time off from teaching. But his next job had its own set of challenges. Wilgus worked painting J. Crew changing rooms around the country. He had to listen to the same set of songs on a continuous loop while working. “I have Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers stuck in my head permanently,” said Wilgus. The paint on the dressing room walls always seemed to be most damaged in shockingly high places on the walls. “It’s like people came in and kicked their shoes off as high towards the ceiling as they could,” said Wilgus. The hours and labor were hard, so as Wilgus painted, he awaited a more interesting and workable opportunity to present itself.

Then it appeared. In his free time, Wilgus used a website called Instructables.com, which specialized in user-created, do-it-yourself projects. Instructables offered an internship opportunity in San Francisco, for which Wilgus applied and was selected. From there he was hired as a senior editor, where he created viral instructional content such as  “easy halloween costumes” and “how to keep bananas fresh longer”. Wilgus even wrote and published a book called Unusual Uses for Ordinary Things: 250 Alternative Ways to Use Everyday Items. When Instructables.com was acquired by Autodesk, however, Wilgus found the new corporate atmosphere less exciting, and left in search of edgier opportunities.

Once again, he relied on his trade skills, helping out a friend as an unlicensed contractor. Memorably, he once was hired to retile a meditation room for a shaman in North Berkeley. He said, “I watched her test three different tile subsurfaces, where she stood on a square foot of each of them to feel the earth energy.”

Wilgus became part of d.tech in 2015, a school that he felt gave him the opportunity to teach using the “weirdest, wildest” teacher schemes that he could think of. Wilgus’s goal at d.tech is to give students a reason to experiment and to make sure we don’t punish the student if they go wrong with the project. How he explains is, “Anything that puts a safety net on trying something you’re not fully confident in, helps ( the student ) a lot.”

d.tech has given Wilgus an opportunity where he he can truly showcase his eccentric personality.

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