- Cleburne Independent School District
Wheat MS Teacher Honored by Cleburne VFW Post
Wheat Middle School eighth grade social studies teacher, and US Air Force veteran, Mark LaCroix has been honored by Veterans of Foreign Wars Allmon-Burgess Memorial Post 12152 and its Auxiliary for his service to the nation and in establishing an atmosphere of patriotic pride in his classroom—and his campus.
LaCroix, who served four years as a U.S. Air Force firefighter, which included deployment to Iraq and Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm, established the Flag of Honor program at Wheat when he joined the faculty in 2019-20. Each day, the flying of the U.S. flag over the campus is dedicated to an active member or veteran of the US armed forces/reserves. The honoree’s name, often submitted by a Wheat student or staff member, and information about them is included in the school announcements immediately following the Pledge of Allegiance.
LaCroix developed the Flag of Honor initiative during the 20 years he taught in Midland ISD. He was inspired by a desire to honor two veterans in his life; his father and step-father were in the armed forces.
“Both served in Viet Nam and passed away within months of each other, “LaCroix said.
“The idea of the remembrance program came to me when I was driving cross country, back to Texas, with the flag from my dad’s funeral. I knew I wanted to do something specifically for those who have served our nation. Linking the flying of the flag over our school each day to the recognition of veterans was what I ultimately came up with.”
During the week leading up to Veterans Day, LaCroix turns his classroom into a mini museum featuring military history and memorabilia, from uniforms to photos and medals, reflecting his family’s military heritage, and those of fellow patriots.
“Our students love Mr. LaCroix and have learned a lot about the military, and the meaning of patriotism, from him,” Wheat robotics teacher Gwenda Davis said. “My husband is quartermaster of VFW Post 12152 and I am in the Auxiliary. In discussing Mark, as a veteran and an exemplary teacher at Wheat and in CISD, we decided he should be recognized.”
During a student assembly, Davis presented LaCroix with a certificate of appreciation from the VFW Post 12152 Auxiliary, while Quartermaster John Davis presented him with a service award. Jenny LaCroix, who teaches reading at Wheat, was in on the surprise, and at her husband's side when the presentation was made.
This is the second time LaCroix has been honored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In 2010 he was named VFW Teacher of the Year for his patriotic service as a member of the Midland Freshman High School faculty.
LaCroix is always prepared to receive information on a patriot to be recognized through the Flag of Honor program at WMS. He keeps information forms in his car to share at a moment’s notice.
“Every year I include my dad in the first Flag of Honor announcement we do,” he said. “His flag is what inspired this. It helps set the tone for my school year as a teacher. As much as that announcement means to me, I can’t let up because of what it can also mean to someone else. It matters. It’s so important to remember those who have and are honorably serving this country.”
“This is for the kids,” he said. “Every day, I hope this gives meaning to the flag they just pledged their allegiance to. I hope they understand the sacrifice made by so many to keep it flying.”