Laila Muller

Kindergarten Teacher

How many years have you worked at Oak Grove?

I have been at Oak Grove for eleven years, with six of those spent in the Kindergarten classroom.

Why do you work at Oak Grove?

I like the way that teachers and students can explore and grow together. I also like the emphasis on developing deep personal relationships with one another. At Oak Grove we have the freedom to be flexible and follow the shape of our passions and our students’ interests.

A quote that inspires your approach to your job.

“Listen, listen . . . This is the sound that brings me back to myself.” – Thich Naht Hanh

Where is your special spot on campus?

I love to walk up to the Saddle.

Coffee or Tea?

Coffee.

What outdoor experience has been most impactful for you?

Many of my meaningful outdoor experiences are connected to trips that I went on as a student at Oak Grove. In eighth grade we took a boat to a secluded beach outside of La Bahia de Los Angeles, in the Sea of Cortez. We were there working with sea turtles and practicing our Spanish. The sands were bright white, the water turquoise and clear, and at night there was phosphorescence in the waves. During my senior trip to India, we went to a botanical sanctuary where we learned about conservation efforts, hiked through leech-infested waters, picked coffee, and sang inside of a water tower where our voices echoed and resounded through the coffee beans drying in the sun. A connection to nature and going on trips together are vital and important parts of the school.

Which teacher in your life affected you greatly? How?

My Kindergarten teacher’s name was Gail. She was memorable in the way that she encouraged us, in how safe I felt in her presence, and how she continuously encouraged her students to consider big topics. She guided discussions about life, death, and beliefs — all things that young children think about and grapple with, but which some people find difficult to tackle in a developmentally appropriate way. We sang songs about nonviolence, complete with sign language. I hope that I can also be there for my students, when they wonder about things that happen in their lives, and that I can help them explore difficult questions with grace and care, the way that Gail did.