•  Highlighting Innovative Contributions in Education


    Sonia Manzano was one of the hosts of Sesame Street since 1971. Noone knew Sesame Street would become one of the most popular shows in history. Sonia Manzano would spend 44 years of her life teaching children how to count to 10 in Spanish, tooling around in the Fix-It Shop, and hanging out with the likes of Oscar the Grouch. Manzano knows the secret behind the show’s long-lasting appeal. “Because it’s real, because it’s funny, because it didn’t shy away from the human experience, and because of the Muppets.” Manzano grew up poor, living in an inner-city tenement. “We were a struggling Puerto Rican family living in the Bronx, and to complicate matters, the household was ruled by domestic violence,” she says. Manzano loved to read, but lacked access to many books. Instead, she used television as a way to escape the harsh realities of her life. What she saw on the screen was very different from her daily life. “I found comfort in the orderly stories told on television shows like Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver,” she says. Considering the hardships of her childhood, it’s not surprising that Manzano decided to take up acting. “I loved fantasy and making believe I was someone else,” she says. At the suggestion of a teacher, she auditioned for a spot at Manhattan’s High School of Performing Arts and was accepted. “Going from a South Bronx school to a more challenging school was shocking,” she says. “My grades suffered, but I discovered theater was a way to get into college!” She was awarded a full scholarship to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. She says her parents weren’t a major factor in her decision to pursue a career in acting. “My father was unavailable and my mother would’ve encouraged me to do anything, no matter what it was.” While at Carnegie Mellon, Manzano was selected to perform in a student project, a then-unheard-of musical called Godspell. The show was a smash and in 1971, Manzano’s junior year, she appeared as a cast member in the show’s original off-Broadway production. In 2012, Manzano branched out into the young adult genre, releasing the critically-acclaimed The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano (Scholastic Press). In 2015, she revisited her tumultuous childhood in her memoir, Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx. Please click on the following resource to Manzano's work: Serrano_Educator's Guide.


    Dr. Ruben Puentedura is the Founder and President of Hippasus, a consulting firm based in Western Massachusetts, focusing on transformative applications of information technologies to education. He has implemented these approaches for over thirty years at a range of K-20 educational institutions, as well as health and arts organizations. He is the creator of the SAMR model for selecting, using, and evaluating technology in education, which currently guides the work of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, as well as multiple other projects worldwide. He is also the author of The EdTech Quintet, a categorization of the core technology toolset required for education derived from the Horizon Report. His current work explores new directions in mobile computing, digital storytelling, learning analytics, and educational gaming, focusing on applications in areas where they have not been traditionally employed. Learn more about SAMR, click on SAMR Model below:




  • Sonia

    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 abroadand 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: https://education.asu.edu/inside-the-academy-of-education/honorees/sonia-nietoa free, open-source website that features archives of video interviews with America’s most distinguished and influential educational researchers.



    Richard A. Carranza is Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, the largest school system in the nation. He is responsible for educating 1.1 million students in over 1,800 schools.

    During Carranza’s nearly 30 years in education, he has served in virtually every role. Prior to New York City, he was the superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, the largest school district in Texas, and the seventh-largest in the United States. Before that, he served the San Francisco Unified School District, first as deputy superintendent and then as superintendent. Before moving to San Francisco, Carranza was the Northwest Region superintendent for the Clark County School District in Las Vegas. He began his career as a high school, bilingual social studies and music teacher, and then as a principal, both in Tucson, Arizona.

    A son of a sheet metal worker and a hairdresser—and a grandson of Mexican immigrants—Carranza credits his public school education for putting him on a path to college and a successful career. He believes that a great education changes lives, and is excited to help the next generation of New Yorkers achieve their dreams. As Chancellor, he is building on the City’s Equity and Excellence for All agenda, which supports students academically, socially, and emotionally from early childhood through twelfth grade. He is also championing initiatives to help educators strengthen their practice and to empower more parents to become engaged in their children’s education.

    Carranza is the past chairman of the Board of Directors for the Council of the Great City Schools, where he served as a national spokesperson on significant issues facing urban school districts. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, the American Association of School Administrators Executive Committee, and the K to College Advisory Board.

    Education Week profiled Carranza as a national 2015 Leader to Learn From. (Open external link) He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in secondary education from the University of Arizona and a Master of Education with distinction in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University. He completed his doctoral coursework in educational leadership through Northern Arizona University and Nova Southeastern University.

    Carranza is a fluent Spanish-speaker and an accomplished mariachi musician. He is married to Monique and has two daughters.



    Latinos currently makeup 25% of school children and will become a third of the US population by 2050. Yet, educational equity is still out of reach for 5.4 million Latino students. Our nation is dependent on this future workforce that needs increased access and opportunity for an excellent education. We need more Latino education leaders serving as decision-makers and advocates to work alongside Latino students and families for their collective empowerment. At Latinos for Education, we are leading a coalition of Latino education leaders to increase access and more equitable pathways for Latino children.

    The mission of Latinos for education is to develop, place, and connect essential Latino leaders in the education sector. We are building an ecosystem of Latino advocates by infusing Latino talent into positions of influence. The organization believes that Latino leaders should be at the forefront of creating an equitable education for Latino students. Latinos for Education prepares Nuestra Comunidad to break down barriers to educational opportunities for the next generation of Latino students. For more information, please click on the icon above.