Kindergarten teacher Jean Ward creates a joyful community of learners at Chugach Optional Elementary School in Anchorage. She uses humor and music throughout the day to keep students' energy focused, and encourages them to deeply explore how things work, using fabrics, lighting and unusual real materials to capture students' imaginations and create a truly magical place for learning. Ms. Ward also gets her students involved with science and nature in meaningful and fun ways. She recently completed a six-week unit on butterflies, culminating in the hatching of the insects and fully engaging students in learning about development and the life cycle. Parents also play a large role in Ms. Ward's day-to-day classroom operations. Pre- and post-tests show a dramatic growth in student achievement from the beginning of the year to the end.