Thien Pham, Bishop O'Dowd High School
With her long black hair and bright eyes, Ms. Rasiah could pass for a student herself, though she's in her late thirties. She teaches video production to seniors at Berkeley High School and helps them direct and produce films that are submitted to film festivals. She often stays at school past the last bell, and students frequent her office for help, advice, and to just chat. The students in her classes are rich and poor, and of every ethnicity; she says that this is what makes her students' videos evocative. Last year, students created a film about gun violence after several students who had experienced gun violence themselves began discussing the topic in class. "She's the kind of teacher you want to be friends with," one student said. Students often call her for help outside of school and drop by her house to use her computer. Although she has a casual relationship with her students, her greatest asset is the respect she commands. "In order to get kids to listen to you, you have to separate yourself from them," she says.