Katie Berretta Aims to Build Confidence in Her Girls

Meet Katie Berretta, one of Hutchison's third grade teachers. Mrs. Berretta enjoys taking on a challenge in the classroom and the freedom to follow her students' interests. She encourages her students to become lifelong learners.
Editor's Note: Answers have been shortened and edited for clarity and conciseness.

What do you like about being at Hutchison?

Teaching and learning at Hutchison gives you the freedom to delve more deeply into topics and content focused on student interest. For example, while learning about picture graphs and bar graphs, my students created questions that could be answered based on a graph I showed them. They asked if they could answer the questions they created, so we developed survey questions, gathered the data in our classroom, and produced graphs to present our findings. We then created these graphs using Google Slides. What they didn’t know is that this project laid the foundation for multiplication!

What is your favorite concept and/or lesson to teach?

Multiplication is my favorite because it is a new skill for third grade. If the girls have older siblings, they have heard about how hard multiplication is or they have heard their parents talk about how nervous they were to take the times multiplication tests. They come into the grade either nervous about learning something difficult or excited to be able to do the same thing as the older people around them. Once we actually start singing our skip-counting songs and using repeated addition, they realize that it is not as difficult as it seems; it might actually even be kind of fun. This helps to build their confidence. I turn it into a lesson about how new things might seem scary, but if you give it a try, you might find out it's actually fun!

Describe your career experience. Are there any key accomplishments you would like to share?

I received my bachelor's in Human Development and Learning from the University of Memphis in 2016. While working on my master's, I worked as a graduate assistant in the Montessori classroom at Barbara K. Lipman Early Childhood School. I began my teaching career at Peabody Elementary working in the optional program. I moved to Richland Elementary and spent the next four years teaching second grade and third grade math and science. During my time at Richland, I became certified as a Microsoft Innovative Educator working to educate my students on programs they could use to elevate their learning experience. This is my first year at Hutchison.
Why did you choose to teach at Hutchison?

A former colleague of mine started teaching here and was complimenting the freedom and support teachers had to create and implement quality lessons. A position became available, and I decided to apply. Throughout the interview process, everyone I met was happy and helpful and talked so highly of the support they get from everyone. Everyone was so welcoming!
What motivated you to become a teacher?

I have wanted to be a teacher since first grade. Writing on the overhead projector and getting a cool MacBook were my motivations back then. As academics became more challenging, I loved the feeling of learning something new and trying to solve complex problems. I decided that I wanted to be a part of helping facilitate those experiences for others.

What are your favorite moments with a student?

I enjoy watching them teach the class something they learned. I love when they have the opportunity to solve a problem in front of the class or with a neighbor, and they are encouraging and patient.

How do you get the results you want each student to achieve?

I help my students achieve by giving them options and choices on final products and letting students decide how they present information. I find ways to connect with them so that they feel supported and can reach out for help or clarification.

What do you want a student to learn from having known you?

Learning is a lifelong journey without a destination. I challenge my students to keep researching new topics, trying new things, and asking questions.

Share a fun fact your students might not know about you that they might find interesting.

I play three musical instruments. I played saxophone in high school and learned to play ukulele and guitar in college.
What interests you outside the classroom? What are you personally passionate about?

I spend most of my breaks and weekends camping, hiking, and kayaking. Last summer, I hiked my first section of the Appalachian Trail! I look to the Leave No Trace organization for guidance on best practices to help care for the outside world.

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