Board of Trustees
Dr. Sonia Nieto
Member, CAL Board of Trustees 2006-2011
Professor Emerita, Language, Literacy, and Culture
School of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Sonia Nieto is Professor Emerita of Language, Literacy, and Culture, School of Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she attended the New York City public schools and, later, St. John’s University, where she received a B.S. in Elementary Education. She then attended the New York University Graduate Program in Spain where she was awarded an M.A. in Spanish and Hispanic Literature. A junior high school teacher of English and Spanish in Ocean Hill Brownsville, Brooklyn, she then became a fourth grade teacher at P.S. 25 in the Bronx, the first completely bilingual school in the Northeast and one of the first in the country to be funded by the new Title VII Program. Her first position in higher education was as an instructor in the Puerto Rican Studies Department at Brooklyn College, where she worked in a joint program with the School of Education in bilingual education. Moving to Massachusetts with her family to pursue a doctoral degree in 1975, she received her Ed.D. from the University of Massachusetts, with specializations in curriculum studies and multicultural and bilingual education.
Dr. Nieto’s scholarly work has focused on multicultural and bilingual education, curriculum reform, teacher education, Puerto Rican children’s literature, and the education of Latinos, immigrants, and other culturally and linguistically diverse student populations. She has written numerous book chapters and articles on these themes, and her articles have appeared in such journals as Educational Leadership, The New Educator, The Harvard Educational Review, and Multicultural Education. Her first book, Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education (1992), soon to be in its fifth edition (2008), is used widely in multicultural education and professional development courses. Other books include The Light in Their Eyes: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities (1999), and What Keeps Teachers Going? (2003), both from Teachers College Press. Edited books include Puerto Rican Students in U.S. Schools (Erlbaum, 2000), and Why We Teach (Teachers College Press, 2005).
Dr. Nieto has served on many local, regional, national, and international commissions, panels, and advisory boards that focus on educational equity for all students. Among these are the Massachusetts Advocacy Center, and the National Advisory Boards of both Facing History and Ourselves (FHAO) and Educators for Social Responsibility (ESR). She has received many awards for her research and advocacy, including the Human and Civil Rights Award from the Massachusetts Teachers Association (1989), the Teacher of the Year Award from the Hispanic Educators Association of Massachusetts (1996), the Educator of the Year Award from NAME, the National Association for Multicultural Education (1997), the Excellence in Education Award from Boricua College, the 2003 Críticas Journal Hall of Fame Spanish-Language Community Advocate of the Year Award, the 2005 Outstanding Educator from the National Council of Teachers of English and, most recently, the 2006 Enrique T. Trueba Lifetime Achievement Award for Scholarship, Mentorship, and Service, as well as two awards from the American Educational Research Association (AERA) at the 2006 annual meeting: the Distinguished Career Award from the Committee on Scholars of Color in Education, and the Senior Scholar Award for Research on the Social Context of Education from Division G. She has received two honorary doctorates, one in Humane Letters from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1999), and the other in Intercultural Relations from Bridgewater State College, Massachusetts (2004). She was an Annenberg Institute Senior Fellow from 1998-2000 and was awarded a month-long residency at the Bellagio Center in Italy in 2000. She is married to Angel Nieto, a former teacher and author of children’s books, and they have two daughters and ten grandchildren.
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