Related professional experiences
Service to the Field
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.