My Interview with Kim Kita, 2nd-grade Teacher

by Katrina Lappin
Kim Kita has been, is, and will always be an important part of Redwood Day. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Ms. Kita as she reflected on her time at Redwood Day.

Katrina: How many years have you been a part of Redwood Day?
Kim: It’s hard for me to remember, but it’s about 23 years with a 6-year hiatus between the first and 2nd time.

Katrina: Do you remember your first day at Redwood Day? Tell me about it!
Kim: It’s kind of a blur. It was at the old site in Alameda at Franklin Elementary. I do remember how empty my classroom was because I didn’t have anything. I was at a new school, teaching a new grade.

Katrina: What roles have you had at Redwood Day?
Kim: When we moved from Alameda to this site, I moved from teaching Kindergarten to Junior Kindergarten, which was more for children with fall birthdays or students who just needed the gift of time.

When I left Redwood Day, my youngest graduated Redwood Day and went on to High School; I left to help start a charter school in Oakland with the East Bay Conservation Corps, a non-profit organization.

Katrina: What brought you back to Redwood Day after your work with the Charter School?
Kim: While I was at the Charter School, I got my Masters Degree in administration and did some work in administration, but was not happy as an administrator. After five years, I was tired of it. And I started looking at teaching in public schools. I still kept in contact with friends from Redwood Day. We would meet for brunch and stuff. Denise Breland was the Lower School Director at that time and was my friend. She told me that a teaching space in 1st grade came back, and I decided to apply. I thought I would come and be a substitute for a little while. But here I still am!

When a 2nd-grade spot came up later on, I threw my hat in the ring!

Katrina: In what ways has Redwood Day changed over the years?
Kim: It is not that small, tiny, intimate community that it used to be. We all fit in a small facility in Alameda. The goal of Redwood Day has always been to diversify its community--it’s always been one of the things that we’ve wanted to do. I was actually at one point the diversity coordinator, but at that time it was more a tourism approach, holidays and stuff. Now the stuff the school is doing, it’s really hard and should be applauded. We’ve come a long way.

Katrina: How has Redwood Day remained the same?
Kim: Hmm. The journey has been kind of different. At the heart, the school always wanted to offer strong academics and also pay attention to who the child is. Academics is one of the pieces, and the child has always been at the center and important.

Katrina: What do you hope your former students carry with them because they were taught by you?
Kim: Well...I just hope they got what they needed. Whatever it was. Whether it was emotional support, academics, or social support with friends. Whatever they needed, I hope it’s what they got.

Katrina: What do you think you will miss most about Redwood Day?
Kim: The community. That sense of belonging. You belong to communities as if you always belong, no matter how many years pass or where you go.

Katrina: What do you plan to do in the next two years?
Kim: I have nothing planned. Finish this year, clean out that classroom, write report cards, teach summer school with Selma (yay!), and then I’ll think about what to do next! I do plan to garden, read more, just spend that time that you can’t always find to reflect and enjoy and savor. So, who knows. I’m open.

Katrina: Is there anything else that you’d like to share?
Kim: Our schools are filled with children and youth. In my opinion, schools are seen as a source of hope for fixing the ails of our society. If we see schools as microcosms of our broader society, Redwood Day has such an opportunity to truly live our school’s mission. It will not be an easy path to travel. It will take very intentional, thoughtful, and creative planning, money, dedication from all constituents of its community, and patience. May Redwood Day continue to grow and prosper towards its goal of supporting and inspiring students reach for their next challenge, embrace differences and develop the intellectual and emotional courage to be ready for anything. Thank you Redwood Day for the opportunity to learn and grow.