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Luisiana Melendez

Luisiana Melendez

Clinical Professor

  • PhD in Child Development, Erikson Institute/Loyola University Chicago
  • MEd in Early Childhood Education, Erikson Institute/Loyola University Chicago
  • BA in Psychology, Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Ureña, Dominican Republic
Area of Expertise
  • Effective programming and classroom practices with young, emergent bilinguals/multilinguals
  • Developmental implications of early bilingual language development
  • Child development in context
  • Action research as a tool for teacher professional development
  • Teacher knowledge and relationship to curricula and instructional practice
  • Implications of local, state, and national policy for the education of young, emergent bilinguals
Professional Highlights


Recent Publications 

  • Melendez, L. & Syc, S. (2021). Rethinking and early care and education program: Responding to linguistic diversity. In Z. Kinkead-Clark and K.A. Escayg Reconceptualizing Quality in Early Childhood Education, Care, and Development. Switzerland: Palgrave McMillan.
  • Melendez, L. & Syc, S. (in press). Voices from the field: The early education and care of emergent bilingual and multilingual Infants and Toddlers. MULTILINGUAL CHILDREN EXCHANGE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2021
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Recent Presentations 

  • 2022- Preparing Faculty for Teaching to the Competencies in the Gateways ESL/Bilingual Credential Gateways Higher Education Forum- with Patricia Chamberlain
  • 2021- Preparing Early Childhood Educators for Equity: Critical ESL/Bilingual Competencies With Sergio Hernandez, Illinois State Board of Education, Patricia Chamberlain, Erikson Institute
  • 2020- Moderator in: A NATIONAL CONVERSATION ABOUT RACE IN EARLY CHILDHOOD LEADERSHIP. Conference sponsored by Bright Horizon and the National Head Start Association
  • 2019 – Story Dictation and Dramatization with Young Emergent Bilinguals. NAEYC Annual Conference. Washington, D.C. November 2019.
  • 2019 – Dual language for infants and toddlers: Collaborative development of a responsive bilingual program. Zero-To-Three Annual Conference. Denver, CO. October 4, 2019.
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Related professional experiences

  • 2022- Gateways for Opportunity: Member of the Review Team for the Modularization of Level 2 Early Childhood Credential-Spanish version
  • 2020-2021-Gateways for Opportunity: Member of the Modularization Review Team of Credentials for Infant and Toddler Credential
  • 2021-2022 Member of Every Child Ready Chicago Workgroup- a public-private partnership led by the Mayor’s Office in partnership with Start Early (formerly known as the Ounce of Prevention Fund) working to ensure all children in Chicago enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life.
  • 2018-2022- Co-Author of BESL credential attached to up to Gateways level 4 Early Childhood Credential The BESL credential received final state approval in the spring 2022.
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Service to the Field

  • June 2019 to June 2022- Member Chicago School Board of Education
  • September 2014 – Present: Member of the Chicago Consortium of School Research Steering Committee
  • Fall 2012 – Present: Member Early Childhood Committee Illinois Bilingual Advisory Council
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Before immigrating to the United States almost 30 years ago, Luisiana Meléndez, PhD, grew up, attended college, and taught kindergarten in the Dominican Republic. Thus, Dr. Melendez feels part of the cultures of two very different countries and believes this has influenced her professional interest in understanding how aspects of culture, from language to family childrearing customs, impact children’s development and learning, particularly in the early years.

A faculty member at Erikson since 2007, Dr. Melendez is passionate about ensuring practitioners are prepared to work with increasingly diverse children and families. In her classes on the Erikson campus and online, she provides a rigorous academic curriculum that encourages students to reflect on how their own cultural backgrounds and experiences potentially impact their work with children and families. Thus, students’ personal experiences help shape the discussions of course topics, while lessons are frequently informed by Dr. Meléndez's work in the field.

“When I was a kindergarten teacher, I knew I wanted to contribute to the development of other early childhood educators,” she says. “Today, through teaching and advising Erikson students, it’s my job to support their preparation and professional development by promoting an understanding of how their positionality, and that of the children and families they work with, in turn impacts their professional practice, the children’s development and learning, and the preferred childrearing practices of their caregivers.”

Dr. Melendez’s recent professional projects include co-authoring an Illinois Gateways credential for levels 2 through 4 that identifies and defines the competencies needed for effectively serve young emergent bilinguals and multilinguals, and their families in a variety of early childhood settings. The credential received its final state approval in the spring of 2022. In collaboration with Patricia Chamberlain, who co-authored Gateways bilingual/ESL early childhood credential, Dr. Melendez is also working of an initiative to support higher education faculty in two-and-four years institutions teaching to the competencies targeted by the credential.

For the last three years Dr. Meléndez was a member of the Chicago Board of Education, where she also led the Board’s Early Childhood Committee. In the fall of 2022, she will rejoin the Chicago Consortium for School Research Steering Committee.