Mr. Kevin is Director of Innovation and Global Strategy. He leads external relations and thinks of news ways to improve learning outcomes using the Montessori Method.
Mr. Kevin serves as Co-Chair of the Cy-Fair Chamber of Commerce Education/Workforce Development committee. A respected thought leader in early education, he has written for Education Week and Montessorium, and he has spoken at the United Nations Global Compact, Harvard University, Harris County’s Department of Education, and Lone Star College-Cy-Fair. Kevin’s recent work was featured in the Harvard University book, One Student at a Time: Leading the Global Education Movement, which profiles 60 top global education leaders and their journeys in education. In 2004, for his work in sustainable development, Houston Mayor Bill White declared March 30 as Kevin Kalra Day.
What do you do for fun? In college, I danced competitively on a Bollywood dance team. I’m also formally trained in Kathak, a classical dance from north India. I like to travel (a lot!) and of course, it’s always fun to watch my Longhorns dominate in football. I also really like watching movies and playing piano.
What’s your favorite dessert? I love ice cream. Blue Bell all day, any day.
Why did you become a Montessori teacher? I grew up in Montessori schools and strongly believe that Dr. Montessori was ahead of her years. Montessori education is an education for the 21st century, and I believe Montessori principles are critical for a more peaceful, sustainable world. I also strongly believe that education is a fundamental human right. My work in early education is more than running schools – it’s about ensuring that all children have the opportunity for the best start in life.
I originally trained as a Geographer, and I started my journey in the energy industry, where I was invited to work on education initiatives in their philanthropic office. After completing my Masters in Education at Harvard University, I was invited to work with the former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, advising his United Nations office on business engagement in education.
I served as Lead Consultant for The Smartest Investment, a joint initiative by UNESCO, UNICEF, the UN Global Compact, and the UN Special Envoy for Global Education and led consultations to design a $100M fund for education in emergencies. I also supported efforts to raise $10M for #SafeSchools in Nigeria and Pakistan.
I worked with Nobel Peace Prize Winners Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, Theirworld’s Sarah Brown, Sesame Street’s Count von Count (yes, that Count!), Dangote Group Founder Aliko Dangote, and Tata Group’s Ratan Tata. With my team, I coordinated a global campaign for girls’ education with Heidi Klum, Priyanka Chopra (from ABC’s Quantico), UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Shakira.
But through this work, I learned that the biggest impact an educator can make is in the early years. For every $1 spent in early education, society benefits by nearly $8. And while working at the global level is great, I believe it’s important to return home and contribute locally. I decided to return to Houston and make Preschool my full-time gig.
Were you born in Texas? I was born in Lafayette, Louisiana and moved to Houston in 1992. I love being in Texas, and I love Houston. It’s truly a global city, and I hope New Yorkers never discover how amazing southern cities can be. (Haha!)
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? One of my travel highlights was visiting Kenya. But since I visited Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina, my favorite place in the world (for now) has to be Iguazu Falls. It’s spectacular. My other favorite places in the world are India and Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, I want to grab a train and visit the north and east of the country, where some say the best beaches are located. In India, I’ve been eager to visit Punjab and learn more abut the history of Partition, which deeply affected my family when India won its independence.