A fifth-grade math and science teacher whose principal calls her the "cream of the crop" and whose students say makes them forget they're learning equations and elements was named Baltimore City's 2014 Teacher of the Year.
Elizabeth Barletta, in her fourth year at Barclay Elementary/Middle School, was surprised in her classroom Thursday by interim schools CEO Tisha Edwards. She was chosen by a committee for the honor after being nominated and going through a process that included essays, interviews and classroom observations.
"Being able to do what I love every day and be recognized for it is surreal," Barletta said, as she prepared to take her students on a field trip to the skating rink.
Barletta said that she sees herself as a facilitator of learning. "I don't like to stand up here and talk, talk, talk. … I like sitting back and letting them take control," she said.
Edwards said Barletta, who has been teaching seven years, "makes her subjects come alive for her students." She cited examples of Barletta's real-world lessons, like creating a budget for Thanksgiving dinner and building a fence around a garden to learn measurements.
Tyeshaun Tisdale, a Barclay fifth-grader, said Barletta is "respectful" and "teaches us in a fun way."
Barletta was described by district officials as an outspoken advocate for tailoring instruction to students' individual needs.
She was also praised for taking on leadership roles in her school, such as serving on her school's instructional leadership team and as the fifth-grade professional development facilitator for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). She also mentors student teachers from Loyola University Maryland.
Barclay Principal Bettye Adams said that the Teacher of the Year honor "couldn't have happened to a better person." Adams, a self-described "harsh critic," said that Barletta exceeds her standards in evaluations. She was also named Barclay's Teacher of the Year last school year.
"She's just one of those diamonds that's making Barclay shine," Adams said.
"To know that these students are getting the best education from the 'teacher of the year' is showing them that anything is possible," she said.
In addition to the title, Barletta will receive several gifts donated by area organizations and businesses. She will also represent the district in competing for Maryland Teacher of the Year.
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