Dr. Nydia Prishker knows firsthand about learning English as a second language. She grew up in a Spanish-speaking family in Reynosa, Mexico, and didn’t learn English until she was 18 years old. She brings her personal experience and professional background in education to St. Thomas Aquinas College as an Assistant Professor of Education and Coordinator of the new Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program, which prepares future generations of English language educators.
“Being an English language learner myself has made me realize how all teachers must have an understanding of language acquisition because we are all language learners,” Dr. Prishker says.
Dr. Prishker joined the School of Education at St. Thomas Aquinas College in 2021 and has taught undergraduate and graduate education courses that prepare students in areas such as child psychology, multilingualism, emergent literacy, and the foundations of TESOL, among other subject areas.
She currently coordinates STAC’s TESOL program, which offers students effective strategies to meet the needs of English language learners. TESOL is offered as both a 30-credit master’s degree and an 18-credit certificate program. The curriculum assists educators in creating lesson plans around cultural and diversity competencies so that teachers can meet the rising demand for English language learning professionals.
In her early career, Dr. Prishker worked as a teacher in several elementary schools throughout South Texas. As an educator, her focus is on developing new resources for early childhood and childhood education teachers, providers, and parents to enhance the practices of teachers and families that support the school readiness of young children in a “culturally responsive and relevant way.” The years she devoted to teaching enriched her research which has focused on investigating the language and education practices embedded in Latin/x families’ everyday lives.
“My experience working with different bilingual programs both as an early childhood and elementary school teacher and as a teacher mentor has given me the perspective and tools to become an advocate for quality and equity in the early care and education of children from diverse cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds,” she says.
Dr. Prishker is dedicated to strengthening partnerships between educators and parents while sharing knowledge and strategies to improve the education and well-being of all young children. In 2018, she served as a postdoctoral associate and research scientist at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. She earned her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction for Early Childhood Studies at the University of North Texas and her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Dr. Prishker’s work has been published in several scholarly journals, including Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools and Early Childhood Research Quarterly, as well as in books, such as The Cambridge Handbook of Childhood Multilingualismand in Development and Research in Early Math Education (DREME) guides, a resource hub for teachers. She is a member of the DREME Network, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and the American Educational Research Association, among other professional groups.
Dr. Prishker believes that education students and professionals alike need to have sharp time management, communication, and critical thinking skills to thrive in their careers.
“I like to relate what we are learning to real-life situations, this way [students] are able to use what we talk about in class in their future practice,” she explains. “I also ask them to think about how their own lives can influence the way they understand academic content and other people.”
About her chosen career path, Dr. Prishker says that she finds “joy and pride” in knowing that her students will be well prepared to support children from all backgrounds with a “strength-based perspective that lifts children’s own language, heritage, and cultural knowledge.”
In addition to her contributions in teaching at STAC, Dr. Prishker is involved on campus, participating in the Faculty Affairs, Library, and Curriculum committees. She is also a board member at One-to-One Learning, an organization that helps immigrants learn English.