Paru Kammula was the star of the show at a recent reunion luncheon at St. James’ School.
The event brought together alumni students and their families past and present to honor Kammula for her more than 35 years of service to the school. Also in attendance were former heads of school Fr. Chuck Rowins and Andrew Wooden, along with current leader, Debbie David.
Her children were students at St. James’ when Kammula was asked by the kindergarten teacher to be her assistant. “I was kind of reluctant… I wasn’t sure I could deal with 20 little ones every day,” Kammula recalled with a laugh.
Upon the teacher’s retirement, she was hired as kindergarten teacher, and later was also named director of admissions. When Kammula realized that her assistant was ready to lead the kindergarten class, “I moved to first grade,” where she has taught ever since.
At the reunion luncheon, Elisha Riggs Hall, who along with five of her siblings attended St. James’, spoke of the special place the school has held in her heart. “When it came time for my daughter, Ella, to apply for kindergarten, I wanted for her to have what I had experienced growing up at St. James’… the feeling of a sweet, small school in the big city, the incredible connection I felt 30 years later.
“Mrs. Kammula was a big part of the foundation of my youth. She always pushed us to do well and to do our best, and maybe even better than our best. We listened to her and we loved her more than anything. She taught us to care for one another and that was above all the most important lesson we would ever learn.”
With no plans to retire—”I’m taking it one year at a time”—Kammula says teaching little ones is still very gratifying after all these years. “They come in with a clean slate. They’re like sponges that absorb everything. They really have faith in you and depend on you.”
Riggs Hall’s daughter, Ella, is now a first grader. “When Mrs. Kammula asked me to be her room mother this year as my mother was for me, I could have cried,” she said. “She is an honor to be around and work alongside, and it is a true gift to be able to be back at St. James’ in this wonderful, warm community and back in the classroom of Mrs. Kammula.”