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Chemistry Teacher Katie Pointer was presented with Laguna Blanca’s 2022 Faculty Excellence Award at the Upper School Awards Ceremony in June. Voted on by a committee of colleagues in each division, including past award recipients, this award is given annually to a teacher who demonstrates both excellence in teaching and dedication to Laguna Blanca School and its students. 

Katie Pointer | Credit: Courtesy

Wholeheartedly embodying each of Laguna’s four core values of Scholarship, Character, Balance, and Community, Katie inspires students and colleagues alike. Her dedication to her craft and her genuine commitment to cultivating healthy, caring relationships with her students is evident both inside the classroom and out.

Students feel confident, capable, and highly successful in her science program as Katie is able to take what is abstract and make it relatable. She is a master of individualizing student learning and prioritizes their skill development while conducting college-level work in the lab. “Katie designs units, tests, and formative assessments that continue to be referenced as ‘life-changing’ by current students and alum,” remarks Head of Upper School Melissa Alkire. She is firm but flexible and never hesitates to share her time with her students, whether that be by running extra study sessions on nights and weekends or rarely missing an opportunity to cheer on our Owls at a sporting event. Always the first to chaperone school dances and trips, she loves spending time with the students and her colleagues love her special ability to wrangle students and keep everyone on task. 

Colleagues describe her as a “thought partner,” team player, loyal friend, and a leading voice in Laguna’s faculty who sees what others miss and provides great insight and support when her colleagues explore new ideas. “Katie tirelessly gives to Laguna with her full heart,” says Melissa Alkire.

She was selected by the Class of 2022 to give the commencement address at the 88th Commencement Ceremony and her remarks were testament to how deep her love runs for her students. “You are enough,” she said. “How do I know this? Because I know you and I love you. And let me be very clear about what I mean by this: I do feel affection for you, but I also respect you, trust you, and am committed and responsible to you.”

Katie joined Laguna’s science faculty in 2005 after completing her Masters of Education and receiving her Secondary Science Teaching Credential from UCSB. Her past teaching assignments have been at Santa Barbara High School in both their chemistry and Excel classrooms and Westmont College, where she worked as a Chemistry Department Teacher’s Assistant and Lab Coordinator. 

A Summa Cum Laude graduate from Westmont in chemistry, Katie received numerous honors during her distinguished undergraduate career, including the College’s Outstanding Graduate in Chemistry recognition and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society induction. Katie has also received a coveted Knowles Science Teaching Fellowship, which afforded her the opportunity to work with other physics and chemistry teachers around the country to further develop their teaching.

Thanks to an endowment established by alumni parents Steven and Marilyn Gutsche, recipients of Laguna Blanca’s Faculty Excellence Award receive a cash award and a $3,000 stipend for travel, workshops, equipment, and teaching materials.

At Laguna Blanca, it is impossible to fly beneath the radar. Here, deeper relationships, heightened learning, and greater achievement are the norm. The all-encompassing support of teachers, counselors, and coaches ensures Laguna feels like a second home. Our teachers are innovators and provide more than a strong academic foundation.They guide students in the process of self-discovery to ensure success in finding happiness, health, and balance. Intercampus bus and tuition assistance available.

Grades Early Kindergarten through Gr. 4: 260 San Ysidro Rd., Montecito; Grades 5 through 12: 4125 Paloma Dr., Santa Barbara. For information about Laguna Blanca’s programs, contact 805-687-2461 or visit


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