Steve Knotek, associate professor of school psychology and early childhood education, has been named a recipient of a 2012 Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship
The award recognizes UNC-Chapel Hill faculty and units for outstanding engaged scholarship through teaching, research and community partnerships. Knotek’s award recognizes his work in developing and maintaining the Madres para Ninos program, which serves Latina immigrant mothers and their preschool through second grade children.
Knotek’s award was among several presented at UNC-Chapel Hill’s annual Public Service Awards ceremony on March 28.
“The students, faculty, staff and University units being honored with these awards exemplify Carolina’s commitment to service and engagement across North Carolina and far beyond,” said Lynn Blanchard, the director of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Center for Public Service. “Their efforts demonstrate the interconnectedness of the University’s three-part mission of teaching, research and service. We are pleased to have such outstanding examples of public service and engaged scholarship to celebrate at UNC.”
Through Madres para Ninos, Knotek and his colleagues help Latino families understand and address the cultural differences with which they are confronted related to their children’s schools, helping Latina mothers become more fully engaged with their children’s schoolwork and their school communities.
Knotek launched Madres para Ninos in 2008, and since that time the program has served families in schools in Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Orange County, Durham County and other sites in the Piedmont.
Madres para Ninos provides mothers access to information on the U.S. educational system, parent advocacy, children’s language and literacy development, school readiness, and grade-level appropriate skills. As part of the program, mothers meet with school personnel to make schools aware of the aspirations Latino immigrant families have for their children, and to communicate information to help schools meet their children’s needs.
The Madres para Ninos program is based on the experience and research findings developed by Knotek, who has had a long career as an early intervention researcher and as a practicing psychologist working with at-risk children and their families.
Mothers taking part in the program report feeling empowered to do more to help their children be successful in school. They say they identify changes in their own practices as well as begin to see the partnering opportunities that exist between the home and their children’s teachers and school officials.