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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI lecture to explore what keeps today's teachers going, Nov. 18

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

KINGSTON, R.I. -- November 10, 2004 -- Ever wonder just what keeps the nation's thousands of teachers going student after student, day after day, year after year, despite the new, and often frustrating challenges faced? Professor of Education at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Sonia Nieto, has wondered just that and decided to find out.

Nieto will share the results of her research over several years on that question at the University of Rhode Island's 29th Annual Robert and Augusta Finkelstein Memorial Lecture on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2004 at 7:30 p.m. Free and open to the public, the lecture will be held in the Barry Marks Auditorium of the Chafee Social Science Center on the Kingston Campus.

Nieto, who has been a teacher for 35 years, teaching students at all levels from elementary grades through graduate school, undertook a project to investigate this "burning question," which was quite simply "What keeps teachers going -- in spite of everything?" Her research focused on gaining a basic understanding of just how "teachers continue to approach each day with determination and courage. Where does their profound belief in students come from? How can they be both critical and hopeful without falling into the extremes of romanticism or despair? How do they develop and sustain a multicultural vision grounded in social justice?"

Nieto will share the results of her collaborative efforts to answer these questions and more, especially with her work focused on urban teachers of culturally and linguistically diverse students, the students whom she believes are most in need. Supported by a Senior Fellowship in Urban Education from the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, her work led to the formation of the "What Keeps Teachers Going?" Inquiry Group through which Nieto says "teachers articulate their greatest hopes and dreams for the future, and they place their values in full view of others. What they do and say with and about their students reflect what they believe their students are capable of and deserve."

Nieto's books include Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education (4th ed., 2003), The Light in Their Eyes: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities (1999), and Puerto Rican Students in U.S. Schools (2000). She has also published numerous book chapters and articles in such journals as The Harvard Educational Review, Educational Forum, Multicultural Education, and Theory into Practice.

She serves on several national advisory boards that focus on educational equity and social justice, and she has received many awards for her advocacy and activism, including the 1989 Human and Civil Rights Award from the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the 1995 Drylongso Award for Anti-Racist Activists from Community Change in Boston, the 1996 Teacher of the Year Award from the Hispanic Educators of Massachusetts, and the 1997 Multicultural Educator of the Year Award from NAME, the National Association for Multicultural Education.

In 1973, the University established the Robert Finkelstein Memorial Lecture Series in honor of the late Robert Finkelstein, a noted Rhode Island industrialist and staunch believer in state and federal support of elementary and secondary education. The lecture series, founded by the generosity of Augusta Finkelstein in memory of her husband, was renamed in her honor following her death in 1997.

Co-sponsors of this year's lecture include the URI College of Human Science and Services, URI School of Education, and the URI Faculty in Teacher Education.

Program access will be provided for persons with disabilities. If you require special accommodations or have questions regarding accessibility, please call 401 874-2098 (TT) three days in advance.