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.