978-1-942762-10-2

Pub Date: December 2015

Author: Leah Wells

A phone call from an old friend results in a surprise job offer for Leah Wells. Going to work as “Miss Leah,” a music and movement specialist for Head Start, means journeying both farther into the Bronx and deeper into herself than she’s ever been. In the year that follows, she enters the staff rooms and classrooms as an outsider, a visiting artist from an unfamiliar culture, sometimes admired for her skills and creativity, other times resented for it. While figuring out how to engage class after class of wriggling preschoolers and contending with ambivalent supervisors, Miss Leah succeeds in bringing the joy of music into crowded, under-assisted classrooms.

 

“From the racquetball that blackened her eye to the overflowing toilet, the embezzling official, the scary crack in her trusty old green Guild guitar, and the countless songs and smiles, musician Leah Wells strummed and sang through a school year of hurdles and satisfaction in this inspired, entertaining chronicle by a truly gifted teacher. If you want to know New York and its classrooms and their street-wise kids, you won’t find a better or more musical guide.”

—Jeffrey Burke has reviewed books for Harper’s, the Wall Street Journal, Newsday, Kirkus, and the Mail on Sunday 

“A refreshingly personal perspective. This non-academic book brought me back to my own days with administrators, teachers, parents, and students. Leah Wells reminds us that learning does not occur in a vacuum, but happens with particular people in particular places. She also reminds us that the highest qualification for a teacher is not necessarily a title or degree—but a creative mind and generous heart.”

—Elizabeth Taub, LCSW, Special Education Social Worker, formerly with New York City Department of Education

“While I know this account is true, the stories engaged me as though I was reading great fiction.”

—Heidi Kohn, LCSW

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