Fall 2020 Guidance
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Berta Rosa Berriz

Adjunct Faculty

Berta Rose Berriz

Berta Rosa Berriz teaches in the Creative Arts programs in the Graduate School of Education. She was born in La Habana, Cuba and entered third grade at a Catholic school in Philadelphia where “becoming an American” meant surrendering ties to family culture – even the correct pronunciation of her name – in the process of imposed assimilation. This childhood upheaval has given Berriz an acute awareness of the significance of family and community, which has figured prominently in her subsequent life choices.

Professionally, this biography has driven Berriz to achieve in many fields related to educational equity: as a bilingual teacher with National Board Certification (2006), a member of the national faculty at Lesley University, a published writer, dancer, and storyteller. She earned her doctorate from Harvard Graduate School of Education (2005) for her study of the cultural identity of second-generation Puerto Rican and Dominican students, and teachers’ assessments of students’ academic performance. Berriz was also named a Massachusetts Teacher Scholar (1992), researching the folktales and storytelling of the Spanish- and English-speaking Caribbean cultures. In partnership with Beth Handman, Berriz was awarded a Lucretia Crocker Fellowship–TEAMSTREAM (1990)–for integrating students with special needs with advanced work students offering a curriculum that employed team teaching, thematic education, cooperative learning, and integrated cultural arts.

After a long and varied career as classroom teacher, teacher coach, mentor, and lead teacher, Berriz concluded her career in Boston Public Schools as a founding co-lead at the Boston Teachers’ Union School (2008-2013), an innovative, teacher-run, K-8 pilot public school in the Forest Hills section of Jamaica Plain.

Anticipating a time of less work and more play, Berriz is looking forward to her next career moves as a writer, textile and glass artist, part-time teacher and mentor of new teachers, and full-time “Abuelita Tita,” to her granddaughters, Naja Zahara and Adena Caridad.

Read about Berta's Family Story Quilt.


BA Sociology, Boston University
MA Integrated Arts and Elementary Education, Lesley University: Elementary certification program in teaching content through the arts with an emphasis on multicultural arts.
CAGS Special Education, Lesley University
EdD, Harvard Graduate School of Education: research as a doctoral candidate investigated the relationship between the cultural identity of Puerto Rican and Dominican second-generation third-grade students and their teachers’ assessment of their academic performance.
Boston Leadership Academy:  BLA explores the intersection of three different lenses of the artist and the educator and the with an eye towards developing a new approach to preparing school leaders within Boston Public Schools.
Afro-Cuban Dance, Ballet Folklorico Nacional de Cuba, La Habana, Cuba: studied and performed dance and music in the Afro-Cuban tradition.

Selected Publications


  • Berriz, B., Wager, A., & Poey, V. (Eds.). (2018). Art as a way of talking for emergent bilingual youth: A foundation for literacy in preK-12 schools. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Poey, V., Berriz, B., & Wager, A. (2017). Diverse experiences and complex identities: A resource archive of artists’ works. Journal of Pedagogy, Pluralism, and Practice, Special Issue 2017.
  • Wager, A., Poey, V., & Berriz, B. (Eds.). (2017). Art as Voice: Creating Access for Emergent Bilingual Families and Communities. Journal of Pedagogy, Pluralism, and Practice, Special Issue 2017.
  • Berriz, B. (2015) “Looking Forward Backwards: Teaching Freedom and Democracy in the Classroom” in Why Teach Now? edited by Sonia Nieto, New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
  • Berriz B. ( 2012). “Multicultural Teaching Story: Boston Teachers Union School: Teacher leadership and student achievement’ in S. Nieto and Bode, P Affirming Diversity: Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education Boston: Pearson
  • Berriz, B. (2014) “Raising Children’s Cultural Voices” in Multicultural Education: Teaching for Racial Justice. Wayne Au, Editor. Second Edition. Rethinking Schools Publications. ISBN 8780942961539
  • Berriz, B. (2009) Learning Happens in Relationships: Creating academic bridges between quienes somos y donde estamos. Manuscript published in Race Culture, Identity and Achievement Seminar publication edited by Theresa Perry.
  • Berriz, B. (2008) “Building Community Beyond Limit-Situations.” In Dear Paulo: Letters from those who dare to teach. Sonia Nieto, Ed. Boulder, CO: Paradigm.
  • Berriz, B. Boston Teachers Union News: A series of letters to teachers: The ABC’s of Teaching Immigrant Students; African American History is My History Too; We Must Take Back Our Classrooms for Our Students’ Sake; The Tests Are Upon Us Again. SY07-08
  • Berriz, B. (2006). “Unz got your tongue: what have we lost with the English-only mandates”. Radical Teacher: Volume 75. Pp 10-21.

Selected Presentations

  • National Association of Multicultural Education: New Orleans, LA 2015. “Bicultural Pedagogy—An Arts Approach to multicultural education. A democratic prototype beyond team-teaching.” A democratic prototype beyond team-teaching, this model advocates the transformation of multicultural classroom practice. Student/teacher experiences are central to workshop structures as tools for introspection and raising expectations for professional growth. Presented in bicultural teams with P. Sanville, K. Austin & E. Moore from Lesley University.
  • American Federation of Teachers, Massachusetts Chapter. Boston, MA, 2012. “Shared Leadership at the Boston Teachers Union School” Presented teacher-led decision making, robust parent and family engagement, meaningful professional development and partnerships with teacher educators enacting these ideals in a democratic process that empowers teachers. Co-presenters Betsy Drinan and Jerry Pisani.
  • Policy Talks: Public Education Reform-The Role of Unions, Charters, Public Schools and Communities. Wheelock College. Boston, MA. 2010. “A Case Study of the Boston Teachers Union School” presented with colleagues Betsy Drinan and Erik Berg.
  • American Educational Research Association Symposium, New York, NY . Research on Schools, Neighborhoods and Communities, 2008. Talking Back to History: Building bridges between African American and immigrant struggles for education in symposium title: “The African American struggle for literacy and education: Curricular and pedagogical possibilities” Theresa Perry, Chair/Discussant.
  • John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Boston, Massachusetts 2007. “Moments that move us: Fostering personal connection to biography” conference seminar. Image and Knowledge: Fifth Annual Alumni of Color conference. Harvard Graduate School of Education. Cambridge, MA
  • Image and Knowledge: Panel presentation The Spectrum of Brown: Racialized Youth Between Black and White. 2007.