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The Campanile

New APES teacher brings his passion for nature to classroom

For new AP Environmental Science (APES) teacher Jack Kearns, ecology has always been a large and important part of his life; teaching is a new career and passion that he is just beginning to discover.

In the past, Kearns has volunteered as a teacher and been a guest speaker at other local schools.

“This is my first year as a teacher, record, but I’ve been doing part time teaching at other schools off and on for three or four years,” Kearns said. “I did a lot of guest speaking on ecology, which was a lot of my background, and wildlife biology.”

Kearns had always been fascinated by nature while growing up in the Bay Area, and knew since he was young that he wanted to focus on the subject.

“I was super adventurous as a kid, I loved to explore and investigate wilderness areas and that led to this fascination around animals and that led into an obsession in wood-birds,” Kearns said. “ My boyhood dream when I grew up was to be a game warden, track down poachers and bring them to justice. It has really been a lifelong passion that has come to realization.”

Kearns had a lot of inspiration and many opportunities as a child to follow his passion and was supported by those around him to follow his dream.

“My mom gave me opportunities to be involved with wildlife,” Kearns said. “At a very young age I was doing bird watching for programs and volunteering at wildlife rehab centers where I’d help rehab injured animals.”

Kearns has held several jobs in environmental conservation and has traveled abroad on such projects. He has studied animals in Africa, such as mongooses, and tundra animals, such as owls, in Alaska.

For Kearns, teaching is the next step in his life and he feels he is  meant to be here.

“I’m here because I’m supposed to be for a higher purpose,” Kearns said.

Having known of his predecessor, the late Kenyon Scott, he refers to the class as Scott’s “mantle” and is honored to continue what has been started in the APES classes. Outside of school, Kearns has a wife and children along with a passion for multiple sports.

“I love spending time with my family,” Kearns said. “They’re my top priority.”

In the past, Kearns has participated in numerous sports and even played football in college.

“I played football competitively. I went to a Division 1 school (St. Mary’s) on a full scholarship in football,” Kearns said.

Along with football, he has played volleyball and wrestling, among others. Palo Alto High School has been a change of scenery for Kearns but he has adapted quite well to the campus and its staff and students.

“Everyone here has been amazing,” Kearns said. “The students have been really welcoming to me and very interested in my teaching style, so that’s really been helpful to my transition.”

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