Our 27th Annual Benjamin E. Mays Lecture, featuring Dr. Sonia Nieto

Sonia Nieto, Professor Emerita of Language, Literacy and Culture at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, spoke about bilingual, English as a second language (ESL) and other teachers of immigrant students at the 27th Annual Benjamin E. Mays Lecture, which was on Nov. 11, 2015, at 6:30 p.m. in the Georgia State University Student Center East Ballroom (55 Gilmer St., Atlanta).

Nieto, an American Educational Research Association Fellow, focuses her research on multicultural education, teacher education and the education of Latinos, immigrants and other students of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. She has published several journal articles and book chapters on her research and written 11 books on these topics, including “Why We Teach Now” and “Finding Joy in Teaching Students of Diverse Backgrounds: Culturally Responsive and Socially Just Practices in U.S. Classrooms.” The first edition of her book, “Affirming Diversity,” which is used widely in teacher education courses in the U.S. and abroad, was selected for the Museum of Education’s Education Readers’ Guide as one of the books that helped define the field of education in the 20th century.

Her talk, entitled, “Learning from Teachers of Immigrant Students: Lessons for Creating Culturally Responsive and Socially Just Learning Environments,” included valuable information from two decades of research on bilingual, ESL and other teachers of immigrant students. Overall, she suggested what all teachers – regardless of subject matter, grade or school – can learn from these teachers about creating robust and meaningful learning environments.

“Given the changing demographics in Georgia over the past decade, it’s important for us to rethink our ideas about how we define urban education and who we’re serving in urban schools,” said Brian Williams, Crim Center director. “We wanted to bring Dr. Nieto to discuss the value of bilingual education and what it means to educate the immigrant, refugee and English language learners who are currently in many of our urban classrooms.”

The annual Benjamin E. Mays Lecture is intended to encourage the discussion of issues facing urban educational leaders, as well as honor the memory of Mays and promote his philosophy of excellence in the education of those typically least well served by the larger society.

Claire Miller