t’s a good thing Grand Canyon University
alumna Elizabeth (Boyer) Barletta used
pencil when creating the lesson plans for
her life.
As a third grader at Sacred Heart Elementary
in Bethlehem, Pa., Barletta decided to follow in
the footsteps of her teacher, Evelyn Wiedl. “She
made learning so much fun that when I went
home, I didn’t want to stop,” Barletta said. “She
was extremely creative in class and had us doing
research projects, and she heavily influenced the
way I teach.”
Barletta’s mother, Debra Boyer, found her
daughter a child’s desk and set her up with a dry-
erase board and workbooks so she could “teach”
her younger brother, Joshua. “He did a lot of
homework over the summer,” Barletta said.
She had planned to stay in or near Bethlehem,
where “no one really leaves,” and happily teach
reading and writing. Someone else could teach
math, a subject she did not enjoy.
But in 2007, armed with an elementary
education degree from Bloomsburg University
of Pennsylvania, Barletta was forced by a down
economy to erase part of her game plan and move
160 miles to Baltimore for the only job she could
find in her field. At Patapsco Elementary and
Middle School, she began teaching science and,
gulp, math to fourth- through sixth-graders.
“I couldn’t remember how to add fractions,”
Barletta said. “The first year was very difficult,
and I had to go back to the mindset of a 10-year-
old learning math. Now, I know what it’s like
when my students struggle, and I’m able to say
to them, ‘Hey, relax, I wasn’t the best math
Here’s what Barletta, now 30 and a fifth-grade
math and science teacher at Barclay Elementary/
Middle School, is: the best teacher in Baltimore
City Public Schools, a district of 85,000 students,
10,000 employees and 195 schools and programs.
In April, the same month she earned from
GCU a Master of Education in Curriculum
and Instruction: Reading with an Emphasis in
Elementary Education, Barletta was named the
2014 Baltimore City Teacher of the Year.
“I’m extremely humbled and so very surprised,
and I owe a lot of the award to my students this
year,” she said. “With it being the first full year of
the implementation of the Common Core, they
were really open to learning in a new way and
working so hard. Because of them I was able to
teach well.”
Barletta will learn this fall if she has been
chosen as a finalist for Maryland Teacher of
the Year.
“Students are her passion, teaching is her
passion,” said Barclay School Assistant Principal
Stacey Royster, part of a team that nominated
Barletta for the award. “No matter what type of
students she has, she does everything she can to
get themwhat they need to be successful.”
Barletta was among the first in her school
district to learn Maryland’s College and Career-
Ready Standards and implement them in her
classroom, and she signs up early and often
for professional development opportunities,
Royster said. When the district directed teachers
to incorporate art into their math and science
lessons, based on research that arts training
can cause changes in the brain that enhance
cognition, Barletta again pulled out her eraser.
“At first, she was nervous because she’s very
organized and likes things structured,” Royster
said. “But we followed a timeline, tweaking it
into the curriculum as we went along, and the
students loved it.”
In addition to teaching, Barletta plans
and presents units and teaching strategies
on science, technology, engineering and
mathematics to other teachers and is
helping write the district’s fifth-grade STEM
curriculum for 2014-15, in a partnership with
Johns Hopkins University.
She’s also a mentor teacher at Loyola University
Maryland. Barletta remembers feeling a bit lost
as a first-year teacher and benefitting greatly from
the counsel of experienced teachers. She’s paying
it forward now and thinks students benefit from
exposure to teachers at their school who care for
each other.
“If I just shut my door and didn’t worry about
anyone else,” she said, “my students would get the
message that you don’t need to grow, that you can
just do your own thing.”
Doing theMath
Elizabeth Barletta’s upbringing + flexibility = Baltimore Teacher of Year
Fun is at the core of
Elizabeth (Boyer) Barletta’s
teaching strategy at Barclay
Elementary/Middle School,
and it has paid off. The GCU
alumna was named the best
teacher in Baltimore last
photo courtesy of
baltimore city
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