Faculty Engaged Scholar Patricia Garrett-Peters helps refugee children

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With a passion for helping a vulnerable refugee population, Faculty Engaged Scholar Dr. Patricia Garrett-Peters, a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and scientist with the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, has connected with the community in a very specific way. After researching the needs of Karen refugee children from Burma who are entering the Chapel Hill Carrboro School System and the teachers who serve them, she began to work toward providing a solution.

“There were lots of great conversations with teachers about academic acculturation that helped us identify two major areas of need,” Garrett Peters said. “Teachers needed knowledge about Karen cultural norms so they could successfully integrate the children into the school environment, and the children needed a working knowledge of what western schooling was like.”

The result was teachers and researchers coming together to develop a standard set of procedures that help refugee students successfully integrate into the classroom. Ultimately, Garrett-Peters hopes to share the curriculum with other school systems across the country who are working with refugee populations. By connecting her research on the roles of poverty and chaos in the lives of children to success in the classroom, Garrett-Peters has brought the concept of engaged scholarship full circle.

“Through my work with the Faculty Engaged Scholars program, I learned that there is this great need. These kids are coming from so little with so little and there really is no way to know what they need until they get here. Anything we can do to help teachers integrate the children is important.” ~ Patricia Garrett-Peters, Faculty Engaged Scholar