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EdD, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; MA, New York University; BS, St. John’s University

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

Author of: Brooklyn Dreams: My Life in Public Education (2015); Why We Teach Now (Ed.; 2015); Finding Joy in Teaching Students of Diverse Backgrounds: Culturally Responsive and Socially Just Practices in U.S. Classrooms (2012); Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education (6th ed.; 2012); Language, Culture, and Teaching: Critical Perspectives (Vol. 2; 2010); The Light in Their Eyes: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities (10th Anniversary ed.; 2010); What Keeps Teachers Going? (2003)

Throughout Dr. Sonia Nieto’s nearly 50-year academic career, she has been a passionate and leading spokesperson for diversity, equity, and social justice in education. Now Professor Emerita of Language, Literacy, and Culture in the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, she has taught students at all levels—from elementary grades through graduate students. Inspired by her Puerto Rican roots, Nieto’s research focuses on multicultural education and the education of Latinos, immigrants, and other students of diverse cultures and languages.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Nieto began her teaching career in an intermediate school in Brooklyn before moving to P.S. 25 Bilingual School in the Bronx, the first fully bilingual school in the northeast. Her first position in higher education was at Brooklyn College, where she taught in a bilingual education teacher preparation program in the Department of Puerto Rican Studies. She moved to Massachusetts in 1975, where she has spent the duration of her career.

Nieto has served on several national advisory boards that focus on educational equity and social justice, and she is widely published with journal articles, books, and book chapters. Her book Affirming Diversity is used extensively in teacher education courses, with its first edition (1992) selected for the Museum of Education’s Education Readers’ Guide as one of the 100 books that helped define the field of education in the 20th century. She is editor of the Language, Culture, and Teaching Series (Routledge), currently comprising more than 20 titles. Her memoir, Brooklyn Dreams: My Life in Public Education, was published in 2015.

For her scholarly work, teaching, activism, and advocacy, Nieto has received numerous awards, including six honorary doctorates. In 2016, she was ranked among the top 35 university-based education scholars in the RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings. She has served as a Visiting Scholar at various universities in the United States, as well as in Puerto Rico and Spain; in 2012 she was selected as the Wits-Claude Distinguished Scholar at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Other recent designations include being named a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association.

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