Most Inspirational K-12 Teacher 

Anna Leah Ah

When the cream began sinking to the bottom of an East Bay private school a few years ago, Anna Leah Ah turned her Paddy Chayefsky moment into a Zen koan. This unusually introspective first-grade teacher pondered: If she was madder than hell, did anyone hear her? The parents and kids whose lives she lovingly touched felt a colossal energy suck when she departed for St. Paul's. Now the ethereal 33-year-old is indulging in her favorite pastime: thinking about thinking. It's all about developing what she calls the kids' "meta-cognitive skills." Ah says her affinity for younger kids derives from learning from their perspective. She also believes that knowing herself is what makes her more authentic. While no school is a politics-free zone, Ah is too busy learning from the children and their older buddies to engage in that sort of thing. And when she isn't doing that, she is touring exotic locations in Asia or practicing her ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement. Listen up, St. Paul's: This flower child is a keeper.

Readers' Picks:
Jon Nagel
Drama teacher at Bohannon Middle School, San Lorenzo
Valerie Gutwirth
Dance teacher at Cragmont Elementary School, Berkeley

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