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Sonia Nieto  

Professor Emerita of Language, Literacy and Culture at the School of Education, University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Professor Emerita of Language, Literacy, and Culture, School of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Sonia Nieto was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and educated in the New York City Public Schools. She attended St. John’s University, Brooklyn campus, where she received a B.S. in Elementary Education in 1965. Upon graduation, she attended New York University’s Graduate Program in Madrid, Spain, and received her MA in Spanish and Hispanic Literature in 1966. She began her teaching career as a junior high school teacher of English, Spanish, and ESL in Ocean Hiil/Brownsville, Brooklyn, and in 1968 she took a job at P.S. 25 in the Bronx, the first fully bilingual school in the Northeast. Her first position in higher education was as an Instructor in the Department of Puerto Rican Studies at Brooklyn College, where she taught in a bilingual education teacher preparation program co-sponsored with the School of Education. Moving to Massachusetts with her family in 1975, she completed her doctoral studies in 1979 with specializations in curriculum studies, bilingual education, and multicultural education.

Retiring from the University of Massachusetts in 2006, Dr. Nieto continues to speak and write on multicultural education, teacher preparation, the education of Latinos, and other culturally and linguistically diverse student populations. Her book Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education (first 4 editions solely authored, and 5th and 6th eds, with co-author Patty Bode), is widely used in teacher preparation and inservice courses around the country. Other books include The Light in Their Eyes: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities (1999, 2010), Language, Culture, and Teaching (2002, 2010), What Keeps Teachers Going? (2003), Finding Joy in Teaching Students of Diverse Backgrounds (2013), and four edited volumes, Puerto Rican Students in U.S. Schools (2000), Why We Teach (2005), Dear Paulo: Letters From Those Who Dare Teach (2008), and Why We Teach Now (2015). She has written widely in such journals as The Harvard Education Review, Educational Leadership, Journal of Educational Change, and many others. In addition, she has authored or co-authored many book chapters, book reviews, commissioned, papers, and others.

Besides serving as an advisory member on many boards and editorial boards, she has also been a trustee of Mass Humanities (Massachusetts affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities), the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, and the Center for Applied Linguistics. She has received many awards for her scholarship, advocacy and activism, including the 1997 Multicultural Educator of the Year Award from the National Association for Multicultural Education, an Annenberg Institute Senior Fellowship (1998-2000), the Outstanding Language Arts Educator of the Year from the National Council of Teachers of English (2005), and the 2008 Social Justice in Education Award from the American Educational Research Association. In 2011 she was named a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association and a Laureate of Kappa Delta Pi, an education honor society. She has received honorary doctorates from Lesley University (1999), Bridgewater State College (2004), DePaul University (2007), and Manhattanville College (2009). Professor Nieto is married to Angel Nieto, a former teacher and a poet and children’s book author, and they have three daughters and twelve grandchildren.

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