Eugene and Julianne LaCroce have long, solid ties to the Catholic community in Emmitsburg.
After moving to the area from Pennsylvania in 1964, Gene and Judy—as they are known to friends and family—enrolled their three oldest children in Mother Seton School (MSS). By 1977, all five of their children were students at MSS, and Judy began work there as a Middle School Language Arts teacher. Gene, who was employed at Mount St. Mary’s University and later at Fort Ritchie, volunteered his time to assist the Daughters of Charity at the school with finances and budgeting. Even after their children graduated and moved on to different areas of the country, the LaCroce family remained champions of Mother Seton School. This commitment to Catholic education was honored on January 31, 2020, with the dedication of the renamed Seton-LaCroce Learning Center at Mother Seton School.
“The LaCroce family’s lifelong dedication to Catholic education mirrors Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s educational mission and vision,” Mother Seton School Principal Kathleen J. Kilty, PhD said. “Our foundress was very sensitive to individual differences among students and impressed upon the sisters the importance of considering each child’s unique talents and abilities. Thanks to the LaCroce family’s generosity and commitment to Mother Seton School students, the Seton-LaCroce Learning Center will honor this vision of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s.”
The Seton-LaCroce Learning Center, or SLLC, originally opened in 2012 as the Mother Seton Learning Center. Its mission is to provide academic support, direct intervention, and guidance for MSS students in pre-K through grade 8. This past year, the SLLC expanded its services to include teacher training in Orton-Gillingham for reading intervention, a sensory path in its hallway to help with behavior and focus, and reading enrichment for students performing above grade level. Currently, the SLLC serves 36 students with documented disabilities, 16 of whom need reading and/or math support, and 15 for reading enrichment. A full-time, experienced special education teacher was also hired to help provide more comprehensive intervention, as well as professional development for the faculty with a focus on teaching students with disabilities.
“We also serve students in all grades who need additional time for a test, or suffer from anxiety and do better outside of the classroom to do a test,” adds SLLC Director Ann Beirne. “In addition, we are able to offer support for students’ emotional needs.”
Mrs. LaCroce was truly touched by the re-dedication. “It is a blessing to have this Learning Center renamed in our honor. We hope that it will enrich the lives of all the students who benefit from the resources offered so that the legacy of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton will continue to flourish in this holy valley.”
Pictured from left: (back row) Brian Stitely; Nathan Stitely; Julia Stitely; Ann Beirne, Director Seton-LaCroce Learning Center; Alexis Burns, MSS Special Education Teacher; Rev. John Lesnick, Pastor of St. Joseph’s, Taneytown; Dan Hallinan, MSS Board President; Jennifer Buchheister, MSS Director of Advancement; (frornt row) Maria Vershel; Julianne LaCroce; Eugene LaCroce; Kathy Stitely; Kathleen Kilty, PhD, MSS Principal