Loyola University Maryland

Center for Innovation in Urban Education (CIUE)

Urban Educators: Thriving, Confused, or Fading

City skyline

The Loyola University Maryland School of Education Center for Innovation in Urban Education and student-led UNITE cordially invite you to "Urban Educators: Thriving, Confused, or Fading," a conversation on the benefits and challenges of teaching in urban education on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014, from 7-8:30 p.m., (pre event reception will begin at 6 p.m.) in McGuire Hall at Loyola University Maryland.

The conversation will focus on three questions: How did your social identities impact the relationships you made with your students? What is an issue you experienced in your first years of teaching that you wished you had been more prepared for? How do you stay motivated in a challenging environment day in and day out?

Three panelists will be led in discussion by Peter C. Murrell, Jr., Ph.D., moderator, a professor of urban education at Loyola University Maryland and founding dean of the School of Education, where he served from 2008-11.

  • Elizabeth Barletta, named the 2013-14 Baltimore City Public Schools Teacher of the Year of Barclay Elementary School, has taught for more than seven years, nearly all in Baltimore City—including the last four years at Barclay.
  • Thurman Bridges III, Ph.D., is an associate professor of urban education at Morgan State University whose career in education started as a middle school social studies teacher in Richmond, Va. His research explores the social context of urban education, African-American male teacher identity, and hip-hop pedagogy.
  • Liz Debes is a proud product of the Baltimore City Public School System, with allegiance to Roland Park Elementary/Middle School as well as Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, whose experience teaching in Baltimore City schools includes three years at a turnaround school in West Baltimore.

About UNITE

In collaborative partnership with the Center for Innovation in Urban Education (CIUE), the Loyola University Maryland UNITE chapter is committed to challenging preconceived stereotypes among Loyola students, promoting social justice and cura personalis, and providing a constructive space to discuss students’ experiences teaching in urban schools.

Speaker Bios

Peter C. Murrell, Jr.Peter C. Murrell, Jr., Ph.D., (moderator) is a professor of urban education at Loyola University Maryland and founding dean of the School of Education, where he served from 2008-11. Murrell currently serves as co-founder and senior associate for research and development of the Alliance for Community Teachers and Schools, where he leads the design and delivery of the organization's Communities of Practice professional development programs for urban school districts. Murrell consults with urban school districts in major cities across the country to develop systematic solutions to the challenges of elevating the quality of teaching and learning in diverse urban schools and communities. His research focuses on educational resiliency and on how social identity, well-being, and self-efficacy determine school success for learners and teachers alike in urban schools and communities.

Elizabeth Barletta,Elizabeth Barletta (panelist), Baltimore City's 2014-15 Teacher of the Year, is a fifth and sixth grade math teacher at Barclay Elementary/ Middle School. A City Schools educator for eight years, Barletta received her undergraduate degree in elementary education from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and her graduate degree in curriculum/instruction from Grand Canyon University. She is also an active member of her school’s Instructional Leadership Team, and has written and piloted STEM curriculum for STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools (SABES) with Johns Hopkins University. 

Liz Debes (panelist) is a Baltimore native with an extreme passion for city living. She is a proud product of Baltimore City Public School System, with allegiance to Roland Park Elementary/Middle School as well as Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. After graduating from Penn State with a degree in elementary education, Debes returned to Elisabeth DebesBaltimore with a desire to teach in the inner city and went on to teach for three years at a turnaround school in West Baltimore. During her work at Gilmor Elementary school, her classes experienced a 20 percent gain in the number of proficient students as measured by the MSA. Beyond the academics, the Responsive Classroom approach brought Debes great joy as she incorporated a “morning meeting” into her daily routine. Although she loves working with youth, the demanding nature of her teaching career led to her resignation from her position at a newly founded charter school in the fall of 2013. Since her resignation, Debes has worked as a child care provider. She is currently contemplating capacities beyond teaching in which she may impact Baltimore City schools and the families the district serves. 

Thurman Bridges III, Ph.D., Thurman Bridges III, Ph.D., (panelist) is an associate professor of urban education at Morgan State University whose career started in education as a middle school social studies teacher in Richmond, Va. Prior to classroom teaching, Bridges earned both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Teaching from the University of Virginia; he completed his doctoral studies at the University of Maryland, College Park in curriculum and instruction within the Minority and Urban Education graduate program. Bridges’ research explores the social context of urban education, African-American male teacher identity, and hip-hop pedagogy.