Q: How did you become a teacher?
Kshama: I attended junior college then transferred to Sierra College in Rocklin and finished my studies at Sacramento State University.
I swore I would never teach! (laughs) I went all the way through college without giving it a thought. I decided to major in Spanish, which I think sprang out of the inspiring service trips I had participated in through Living Wisdom School.
Q: Here’s a trick question. Did you slide right in to teaching? Did it feel natural to you from the start?
A: No! (laughs) No, it was really difficult. I would watch some of the people here and think, “Wow, they’re natural-born teachers.” I love teaching, but it didn’t come naturally at all. It feels fulfilling in ways I had never experienced before. I’ve never felt more engaged and tested and inspired.
Q: What do you remember most clearly from your time as a student at Living Wisdom School?
A: I remember how there was always an encouragement to live to the fullest and to try things.
One of my memories that stands out and has stayed with me is our field trips to Mexico. They were life-changing experiences. We worked throughout the school year to raise money for the trips, and we studied Spanish. One of the primary sources of funds was a thrift store that the children and teachers started and ran together to support the school.
I had never been to a developing country, and I’d never been with orphaned children who had so many seeming disadvantages. The first year we spent two weeks in La Paz, in Baja California, and the second year we spent a week there and another week in Mazatlan. It was a completely eye-opening experience for me to be thrown into a way of living that was so different from mine. We became part of the orphanage life — we cleaned, cooked, served, and played with the children. I have friendships that I made on that trip that have lasted to this day.
My students are pen pals with the children of one of the boys who lived in the orphanage, which is thrilling to me. About two years ago he found us on Facebook. He was sort of an older brother while I was there; we would tag along with him and his friends, and we wrote back and forth for a few years until we lost touch. I always wondered what happened to him. Talking with him, I’ve realized that his experience of our coming down there was just as life-changing for him as it was for me. He told me that our visits opened a whole new world for him: a world of possibilities and hope and fresh interests. That’s what Living Wisdom School was for me, too.
Kshama Kellogg teaches second grade at Living Wisdom School in Palo Alto, California