Kala Stepter is an 8th Grade Math Teacher at East Bay Innovation Academy.
“As leaders of color in the education field, we have faith in our students and our communities. We see the beauty and strength that already exists within them and have hope that we – educators, students, families, our communities – can build toward a more equitable nation that not just recognizes but appreciates all that we are. The Surge Fellowship allows us the space to celebrate, connect, and build with a heart toward social justice. As a classroom teacher, I am excited to collaborate and be inspired by my cohort; I am prepared to learn and be equipped with tools that I can pass on to my students. We are most powerful all together, and I’m honored to be a part of a movement working for systemic change in our schools.”
As a learner and leader in education, Kala has sought to grow in and cultivate the strength that exists in our communities. With the belief that there is no limit to our possibilities, she sets her mind toward change and her heart toward the people to ignite a transformative system in which humanity is centered, honored, and loved. As an educator, Kala is joyful. As a change maker, she is driven. And with unwavering faith, she aligns with the words of poet and activist, Audre Lorde, “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.”
Kala’s commitment to self-determination for the individuals, families, and communities that she lives and serves in was fine-tuned during the six years that she worked for DC Public Schools. There she was able to evolve into an effective teacher and advocate by witnessing true innovation and care by her students, families, and mentor teachers (all turned family). In partnership with them, Kala redesigned systems - both in and outside of her classroom - to deconstruct what was and to instead dream of what could be.
Helping to build her school’s first PTO, she has worked to ensure that the voices of families are heard and that their presence is felt. As a teacher in the pilot Social Justice School, Kala developed a math curriculum employing the liberatory design model to teach students about mass incarceration and the school to prison pipeline. She brought this element of design and creativity into her own classroom, launching a project based learning model that allowed elementary students to master math and science, evidenced by improved scores and academic growth, while also growing their own curiosity and innovative spirits.
Now in Oakland, CA, Kala teaches eighth grade math at East Bay Innovation Academy, setting news roots as an educator in the Bay Area. With a foundation built in togetherness and creation, Kala continues to listen and work for her communities. She has brought the lessons of her previous experiences to EBIA, and promotes transformational change within our school system. By leading equity work, she is taking deliberate steps toward a vision where collaboration, creativity, and community serve as a beacon for what could be.
Kala holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Stanford University and a dual Master’s in Education from Lesley University. She takes pride in being a visionary, a coach of track and field, and a self-described background singer.