Alumni News

Margarita Machado-Casas (Ph.D. '06) reaches out to Latino community, helps parents become advocates for their children’s education

In an effort to help Latino parents take a more active role in their children’s education, Margarita Machado-Casas , created LUPE [Latinos Unidos por la Educación de sis hijos (Latinos United for the Education of their Children)], a group that works with Durham’s newly-arrived Latino immigrant community.

Although the group was originally formed three years ago, this year is the first time that LUPE has concentrated on working with a single school with a high Latino population. That school – Merrick Moore Elementary – has a Latino population above 30 percent and is host of this year’s LUPE project. Principal Kathy Kirkpatrick and ESL teacher Wendy Pineda have worked closely with Machado-Casas to ensure the program’s success.

LUPE participants meet at Merrick Moore once a month to cover topics such as good nutrition, bus rides, registration, academic expectations and more. In addition to these regular school meetings, LUPE participants also meet in other settings to cover relevant topics. For example, Machado-Casas recently took a group to a local bookstore to learn about selecting books for their children.    

“This was a wonderful experience for them,” said Machado-Casas. “Only one family had been to Barnes and Noble before. We took a tour of the store in Spanish, and Barnes and Noble also provided discounts and refreshments for the families.” 

Because of LUPE, Machado-Casas says that she is beginning to see many parents take on leadership roles and get involved in other aspects of the school, such as the PTA and the Parent’s Advisory Council. 

Margarita Machado-Casas is a May 2006 doctoral graduate of the School’s Culture, Curriculum and Change program. Currently, she serves as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute in Chapel Hill.

For more information on LUPE, please email