Education Professor Sonia Nieto of UMass Amherst to Discuss What Keeps Teachers Going

AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts education professor Sonia Nieto will deliver the first Distinguished Faculty Lecture for 2000-01, on Tues. Oct. 17 at 4 p.m. in Memorial Hall. The title of the talk is "What Keeps Teachers Going in Spite of Everything?" It is free and open to the public and will be followed by a brief reception.

The title of Nieto''s talk is derived in part from a research project by the same name that Nieto was engaged in during the past year. Working with 10 high school teachers at inner city schools in the Boston area, she explored the various challenges they faced and how they overcame these to continue trying to reach students.

According to Nieto, one of the key things she found was that a combination of "hope and anger" fueled the most successful teachers, causing them to continue in the face of sometimes-daunting obstacles. "These teachers had hope in public education, and in the students themselves, even though the students were sometimes very hard to reach, and the system in general seemed to under-appreciate them."

In her talk, Nieto will draw on a combination of materials culled from her work including letters, essays, and e-mails from the teachers she studied. She also will quote from transcripts of monthly meetings she held with the teachers, as well as writings they gave her in response to specific questions. "What I hope to show is how these dedicated teachers can offer teachers everywhere instruction on thriving in sometimes difficult settings," Nieto says. "They developed resources that can be adapted to educational settings throughout the state."

Nieto joined the University faculty in 1980 and has taught courses in language, literacy, and culture. Among her previous research topics are the education of Latinos, and the instructional value of Puerto Rican children''s literature. From 1989-92, she was director of the cultural diversity and curriculum reform program in the School of Education. She has written numerous book chapters and journal articles, and her books include "The Light in Their Eyes: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities," and "Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education."

Upcoming speakers in the Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series include UMass Professors James Boyce, economics; John Mullin, urban planning; and Jose Mestre, physics. Each of the lecturers will also receive the Chancellor''s Medal, the highest honor bestowed on an individual for service to the University