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Posted on Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:11 p.m.

Logan Elementary's Katy LaCroix recognized in Washington for excellence in culturally responsive teaching

By Danielle Arndt

Ann Arbor Public Schools teacher Katy LaCroix was honored in Washington D.C. Friday for her superior talent and commitment to educating students from diverse cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds.

LaCroix, a literacy specialist and fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Logan Elementary School, was one of five teachers nationwide to be selected for the first Teaching Tolerance Award.

The award was created by the Southern Poverty Law Center to recognize educators who excel at culturally responsive teaching. It was supported by a grant from the Richard W. Wiley College of Education and Leadership at Walden University. Each award recipient received $1,000.



Logan Elementary School Principal Terra Webster said LaCroix is a superb example for her peers at Logan as well as throughout the district.

She said the application and review process for the award was quite extensive. It included a crew from Education Week visiting Ann Arbor and videotaping LaCroix for a day. (Watch the video below).

“Katy is just amazing, and we are so very proud of her for not only being a leader in the building, but also for her work on Logan’s equity team,” Webster said.

She added LaCroix is an integral part of that team and presented with other members at a national conference on equity in schools last month.

LaCroix told the SPL Center one of her key strategies is getting to know her students on a personal and individual basis. When possible, she even attends basketball games or church services for the children she teaches, according to Education Week.

Webster said the genuine relationships LaCroix forms with her students help her to mold lesson plans to meet the individual learning styles of children of all nationalities.

“Culturally responsive teaching is not just about delivering the curriculum,” Webster said. “Knowing the culture of the students, their likes and dislikes and knowing their interests, makes Katy teach with a laser-like focus. She’s able to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of all her students.”

Webster said LaCroix currently is working to obtain her doctorate in education and has hopes of becoming an administrator someday.

“Katy will make an amazing administrator, and I am certain that will happen sooner rather than later. She is precisely the type of administrator the district will need to continue working at eliminating the achieve gap.”

The other Teaching Tolerance Award winners were Silvestre Arcos, a middle school math teacher from the Laboratory School of Finance and Technology in New York; Sonia Galaviz, a fifth-grade teacher from Endeavor Elementary in Nampa, Idaho; Amber Makaiau, a social studies teacher from Kailua High School in Oahu, Hawaii; and Tracy Oliver-Gary, a history teacher from Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville, Maryland.

See LaCroix’s video with Education Week below.

Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 11:48 p.m.

Diversity means to divide. Why are we so hung up on it. We're all Americans. What about American culture? Where is that being taught. Where is the cultural sensitivity toward our culture?


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 1 p.m.

diversity |di?v?rsit?; d?-| noun ( pl. -ties) the state of being diverse; variety : there was considerable diversity in the style of the reports.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 11:05 p.m.

What is she talking about in the video regarding a white curriculum? My son hasn't read ANYTHING that I have seen this year from a white perspective. They are reading almost exclusively about other "cultures" and their experiences while the American culture seems to be getting swept under the rug. What's up with that? And who is buying this? Culturally responsive teaching seems to be imposing other cultures upon the "non-disadvantaged". How long are we going to label these kids as disadvantaged and treat them as victims? Do you know how many people had a rough time after coming to this country and yet became very successful without all of this stuff? Are these the same people who say we should not impose religion on others and then discuss Muslim holidays in the video? Is it important that we get the correct pronunciation of an arabic word when many have difficulty with english or don't want to learn it? I do agree with the statement that we have a teaching gap and not an achievement gap. Half of the battle is taking an interest in the students and their personal lives and answering their questions when they ask which it sounds like she does, beyond that I don't get the point. My son has a teacher right now that never answers his questions and tells him to ask his neighbor then tells us he talks in class too much. What's up with the equity team? We're so worried about equity, social justice, etc. that many non-minority children are being left behind and ignored. Demographics are pointing to whites not being the majority in the not so distant future. I don't see where that is being taken into consideration in any of this.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 1 p.m.

You say they are not reading about the "American culture." Could you define that?


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 1:29 a.m.

And speaking of rough times, for all anyone knows, perhaps that well-dressed white child goes home to an alcoholic parent and is verbally abused? Or a mentally unstable parent who lets them fend for themselves at home. Isn't there something about not judging a book by it's cover? And, I'm just curious, does Idaho have a big intolerance problem? I'm too lazy to google Idaho's demographics, is there a huge influx of minorities there? (one of the winners is from Idaho)


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 11:49 p.m.

Mike, I agree with everything you've said. I couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you for taking time to say what so many of us are thinking.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 10:50 p.m.

My 16 year-old son had Ms. LaCroix as a teacher seven years ago; she was terrific. I'm disappointed, however, that she strives to leave the classroom and become an administrator. Not only would this present a great loss to her students, it means she'd be joining the bureaucratic strata responsible for enforcing federal and state policies that often run counter to sound educational practice. Don't drink the Kool Aid, Ms. LaCroix! Our kids need you in the classroom!