Dr. Sonia Nieto has devoted her professional life to questions of diversity, equity, and social justice in education. A native of Brooklyn, New York, she began her teaching career in 1966 in an intermediate school in Brooklyn, later moving to P.S. 25 in the Bronx, the first fully bilingual school in the Northeast. Her university career started in the Puerto Rican Studies Department at Brooklyn College. She and her family moved to Massachusetts in 1975, where she completed her doctoral studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, returning a year later to begin her long academic career there. She taught and mentored preservice and practicing teachers, and doctoral students at UMass from 1980 until 2006.
Dr. Nieto’s research focuses on multicultural education, teacher education, and the education of students of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. She has written or edited eleven books, including, most recently, the third revised edition of Language, Culture, and Teaching: Critical Perspectives (2018); Why We Teach Now (2015); and Finding Joy in Teaching Students of Diverse Backgrounds: Culturally Responsive and Socially Just Practices in U.S. Classrooms (2013). Her first book, Affirming Diversity, now in its 7th edition (the 5th through 7th editions were co-authored by her friend and colleague Patty Bode). Affirming Diversity is used widely in teacher education courses in the United States and abroad, and the first edition (1992) was 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 twentieth century. Dr. Nieto has also written dozens of book chapters and articles in such journals as The Harvard Education Review, Educational Leadership, Language Arts, and The New Educator, among others. She is editor of the Language, Culture, and Teaching Series (Routledge), currently comprising over twenty titles. Her memoir, Brooklyn Dreams: My Life in Public Education (Harvard Education Press) was published in 2015.
Dr. Nieto has received numerous awards for her scholarly work, teaching, activism, and advocacy, including 8 honorary doctorates. She has been a Visiting Scholar at various universities in the United States, as well as in Puerto Rico and Spain. In 2000, she was awarded a Bellagio Residence by the Rockefeller Foundation, and in 2012 she was selected as the Wits-Claude Distinguished Scholar at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 2011, she was elected a Laureate of Kappa Delta Pi and a Fellow of AERA, and in 2015, she was elected a member of the National Academy of Education. In addition, she is profiled in Inside the Academy http://insidetheacademy.asu.edu/sonia-nieto, a free, open-source website that features archives of video interviews with America’s most distinguished and influential educational researchers.
Sonia Nieto is married to Angel Nieto, a poet, children’s book author, and former middle and high school teacher. They have raised two daughters and a granddaughter, and are the proud grandparents of 12 grandchildren.