Barry Morrato: Wilson’s authority on beer, paper, and chemical engineering

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Barry Morrato: Wilson’s authority on beer, paper, and chemical engineering

Photo by Ayomi Wolff

Photo by Ayomi Wolff

Photo by Ayomi Wolff

Anna Arnsberger

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Peanut butter, toilet paper, and Wilson—these three completely unrelated topics have one thing in common: Barry Morrato. Now one of the newest members of the science department, Morrato previously spent 35 years as a new product developer. It’s thanks to Morrato’s innovation that items like Folgers coffee and JIF peanut butter are the popular commodities that they are today.

With a chemical engineering degree from Purdue University, Morrato’s job as a product developer required him to apply his knowledge of science to improve everyday items. First employed under Procter and Gamble, Morrato worked for JIF, Folgers, and various paper product companies. Fifteen years later, he moved to the beverage industry with Coors Brewing Company. 

While he held jobs in product development for a large part of his life, Morrato always aspired to become a teacher. “It was a life goal, and it was just one of those things that I wasn’t able to do it while I was getting kids through school and paying for their college and now I can do it,” Morrato said.

A year and a half ago, Morrato and his wife moved to DC so he could earn his master’s degree in education from George Washington University. At the end of last school year, Morrato became a student teacher at Wilson, working with Laura Chase. When a spot in the chemistry department opened up this year, Morrato eagerly stepped up, and he now teaches Honors Chemistry and Forensic Science full-time. 

With a passion for all things science, Morrato fondly remembers his high school courses that applied science to real-life situations, and aims to mirror that in his own teaching. “What I aspire to do is to really try to put real-world examples in all the chemistry and forensic science that we’re doing,” he said. For Morrato, it’s all about finding broader parallels outside of each specialized subject. He added, “I want to keep connecting the kids’ interest in chemistry into just science in general so they get excited about their additional sciences that are in front of them.”

Morrato’s experiences as a parent have helped him navigate the fairly new field of education. By tutoring his kids and their friends, Morrato had an idea of what to expect as a teacher. Still, the heavy work demand came as a bit of a shock. “Teaching will take every minute that you can dedicate to it,” Morrato said. “And I’m enjoying spending a lot of time planning great lessons and building real-world examples and keeping up with the gradebook, but it’s dauntingly difficult work.”

Along with adjusting to a new profession, Morrato has been happily settling into DC, living in a much more urban area than he had previously. Morrato grew up in Colorado, where he became a comfortable skier and played soccer through high school. He continues to fuel his love for the outdoors by golfing and exploring Rock Creek Park. 

Morrato’s career switch has so far proven to be rewarding. For him, the best moments are when he works with struggling students and suddenly “they’ll smile, and you can see it in their face that they finally came to understand something.”

While Morrato may be new to education, he’s not backing down from the challenge. “I’m going to bring energy every day,” Morrato said, and he expects students to match that.