Dr. Lloyd Elm
Lloyd Elm is a member of the Onondaga Nation. He is a graduate of Haskell Institute, a federal Indian boarding school located in Lawrence, Kansas, received his Bachelors from Syracuse University, and his Masters and Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University. In 1958, Elm was honorably discharged from the US Marine Corps. His professional career has included nine years as a classroom teacher of Biology and Physic, and for twenty-two years as a building Principal at the Onondaga Nation Indian School, Native American Magnet School in Buffalo, and the American Indian Magnet School in St. Paul, Minnesota. In addition, he was an Education Program Specialist for six years within the Office of Indian Education, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C., and two years as the Chief Educational Consultant for the First Americans Community Technology Inc. of Syracuse, New York. Throughout the past fourteen years he has served various terms as a member of the Board of Director for the National Education Association; the National Indian Education Association; and the Coalition of Indian Controlled School Boards. He has taught a variety of post-secondary courses at Syracuse University. This is Lloyd’s second year as the conference moderator.
Standing Up for Children
Lloyd Elm could not escape his destiny to teach.
His American Indian name means "he who stands for children," and
by age 14 he knew where his life was headed. "Most of the men in my
family were iron workers, but I knew that I was going to be
different," he says.
And different he is. For more than 30 years
Elm, two-time winner of NEA's Leo Reano Memorial Award for Human and Civil
Rights, has transformed the lives of his students by teaching innovative
reading skills and pursuing a compassionate quest to ensure that all
children are treated equally.
As principal of Mounds Park All Nations Magnet
School in St. Paul, Minnesota, Elm rescued the school from academic
decline with his Balanced Literacy Program. Through the program, children
learn to read by learning a whole concept and then breaking the idea into
smaller parts. For example, for a lesson about animals, Elm recommends
presenting all the animals together and then allowing children to learn
about each individual animal as it relates to the group. "We have to
shift from teacher-centered learning to child-centered learning," Elm
says. "We must allow students to see themselves within the
When children connect their environments to
what they are learning, reading becomes natural, he says. This concept has
been a pivotal teaching tool for American Indian students as the children
recognize themselves in stories and lessons infused with American Indian
culture and customs. "You have to let the children guide you through
their learning and allow them to have ownership," he adds.
While Elm has garnered praise for his work with
American Indian students at Mounds Park in St. Paul and the Native
American School in Buffalo, New York, he doesn't attribute his exceptional
career to test scores. His career rests on the belief that all children
"We have to make children the center of
everything," he says.
Native American Educator Honored by NEA
Washington, D.C. -- Dr. Lloyd Elm, who has been a teacher, program specialist, college professor and principal during his 34 years in education, understands that children do not learn if they feel disconnected.
Elm's goal is to fashion a school similar in
many ways to the one he attended in Lawrence, Kansas, with Native American
students from 103 different nations (tribes). "If I had been forced
into a traditional American school, I may have never graduated," says
Elm, who is principal of the American Indian Magnet School in St. Paul,
Minn. "I thrived there. It was free of any form of racism, subtle or
otherwise. It literally saved my life."
Elm's total career, with the exception of five years, was forged at schools for Native American students. His understanding of American Indian culture and the unique techniques he uses to teach his students have earned him a National Education Association (NEA) Human and Civil Rights award.
page last updated 30 July 2005