When most people think of a juggler, images of an entertainer tossing various items through the air with precision are called to mind. However, Anita Knott makes it through each week with a slightly different juggling act.
In one hand, she is a behavior specialist for the Hattiesburg Public School District; in the other she is a mother to five children, a volunteer with her church’s youth group and last, but not least, she is wife to Cedric Knott.
Throughout the week she works with the school district as a behavioral specialist, aiding teachers in classroom management and staff development. She also gives a series of Pre-K lectures, helping daycares know what to expect and teaching de-escalation.
“We discuss the importance of a caretaker taking time to understand what the child is going through before jumping into a situation,” she said. “A lot of times, the child’s behavior is a result of something else going on with them.”
On the weekends, you can find Knott running after any of her children to golf practices, youth orchestra, soccer practice, tennis lessons and many other activities. Creating well-rounded, talented and driven children is her mission.
“I try to keep it to one sport a season,” she said. “It gets to be pretty interesting.”
Knott is a stepmother to Rachel McMillan and Cedric Knott II and mother to Andric and twin boys, Isaiah and Isaac.
While many may be overwhelmed at the thought of twins, Knott said she wanted twins when she was pregnant with her first son, Andric.
“God must have kept my request on hold,” Knott said.
Because when she went in for her ultrasound during her second pregnancy, she pointed to the screen and said, “Oh my goodness, there’s two of them!”
Twins are a part of Knott’s family history, with one set in each generation and two in hers.
“My grandfather was a twin, he had twins and my uncle had twins,” she said. “Someone has had twins in every generation, and there are two in this one.”
Knott may have a full plate with all that her family has going on, but she said she is glad she does not do it alone.
“My husband is such a rock for us,” she said.
On the weekends, things can get a little hectic in the Knott household with all of the activities their children are a part of. However, Knott said she and Cedric put their heads together to make sure each one is where they need to be.
On Sunday, you can find the Knotts attending church at Jesus Church Ministries in Heidelberg, where Cedric is the pastor.
“My dad founded the church, and when he was ready to retire, he felt like the Lord led him to commission my husband as pastor,” she said. “It’s a good church with good people. That makes it all worthwhile.”
Knott has lived in Hattiesburg since she moved to the city to attend college at The University of Southern Mississippi. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, a Master’s in child development and a Master’s in social work.
She met Cedric at the Southern Miss Center for Child Development. They have been married for nearly 16 years.
She was pregnant with the twins when she decided to go back to school for her social work degree.
After graduation, she began to work with Pinebelt Mental Health. She said mental health began to wear on her, so she reached out to a friend who worked for the Hattiesburg Public School District and mentioned she was interested in a job there.
“God just opened up a door,” she said. “When I started working (for the school district), Andric started kindergarten.”
This way, Knott has the same vacation time as her children and weekends off to spend time with them.
“Coming on board here worked out well,” she said.
She has since worked for the school district for nearly 10 years.
Her role at the school district has also aided her in her home life. Her background as a behavioral specialist often helps her in situations at home while working with her own children.
However, sometimes she said it is difficult to translate that to her home life.
“Outside of that professional setting, I go into mommy-mode,” Knott said. “A lot of times I have to step back from a situation to think about it objectively.”
Knott also hosts sessions for parents or couples
looking to foster or adopt children as a part of
Parents as Tender Healers (PATH). She teaches quarterly classes with a scripted curriculum, where they discuss abuse the children may have suffered and the behaviors that are a result of that.
“It’s an eye-opening experience,” she said.
One day, Knott said she would enjoy being an adoption specialist. However, for now, she plans to stay with the school district as long as they’ll have her.
Outside of work and the family’s weekly routine, the Knotts enjoy traveling together and enjoying some local favorites as a family.
“We love to travel,” Knott said.
In Hattiesburg, she said they love to all go out to eat together. You can also find them splashing around in the pool, riding bikes on the Longleaf Trace or rolling around the skating rink.
“Outside of that, you can always find me running around behind them at games,” Knott said. “I’m their biggest cheerleader.”
Being a “cheerleader” for her children is something Knott says comes naturally to her, because her mom was always there for her in the same way.
“My mom has always been the best example to me,” she said. “She taught me to be the world’s greatest cheerleader. My kids need to know someone is always in their corner. My parents taught me that.”
Knott said every time she had something going on, her mother and father were always there, which is how she tries to be for her own children.
Her biggest challenge as a mother is trying to keep up with everyone while also maintaining her own identity.
“It’s difficult balancing ‘me time’ with family time,” she said.
But Knott always finds a way to make it work.
“Balancing support for my church and my family, that’s what is important to me,” Knott said.