LaToya Grady, Special-Education Teacher

Photo: Jake Chessum

What are you doing today?
Going to Zen Palate for lunch. I’m a vegetarian—it started when I’d see my mom frying chicken in one room, and I’d be playing with my pet bird in the other room and just thinking, What is going on here?

What do you do?
I teach special ed up in Harlem. I started off in the New York City Teaching Fellows program five years ago when I moved from the Midwest.

Is it a difficult job?
There’s a lot of bribing going on. You know, “If you guys want to paint, Miss LaToya brought some cookies today, and if you guys want some cookies … ” But I like it.

What do you wear to work?
When I go out, I like short skirts and heels. I like to have fun, definitely. I like to be sexy, flirty, and I’m able to pull it off, I think. But when I teach, I’m scared that I’m starting to look like Ellen DeGeneres: pantsuits from H&M and Stan Smith sneakers.

How about this outfit?
This is my shopping outfit: kind of cute but casual and low-key. And I like to be mobile. The coat is from Wilson Leather, and I picked up the scarf from a vendor in Harlem. The cap is a gift from my mother—my favorite color is pink.

Does anyone ever tell you you look like someone?
Erykah Badu. And it’s funny because I’m bigger, thicker, browner. But people do have their ideas. I think I just look like my mom.

Kids can be tough critics. Do they make fun of you?
My hair is pretty big, I do like bright colors, and I’m really not so good at matching. I get lots of “Miss Grady thinks it’s Halloween!”

Do you have any style icons?
Naomi Campbell. You know, you’ve got to be mean sometimes. She’s ridiculous, I know, but I have a real love-hate thing going on there.

LaToya Grady, Special-Education Teacher