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LSU Today Flagship Faculty
What was your previous position and where?I was professor and chair of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at the University of New Orleans. I served on the faculty there for 14 years.
What brought you to LSU?I came to LSU after Hurricane Katrina when a position in my specific field of study — early literacy — became available. I was not conducting a job search, but couldn't pass up an opportunity to join the faculty at the flagship and focus my energies on scholarship and teaching. I was quite happy to leave administration behind!
What is your research interest?My research area is early literacy development. While I have worked extensively with teachers to investigate writing development in kindergarten through second grade, my primary focus in the past few years has been on preschool children's literacy and professional development for preschool teachers.
What do you hope to accomplish at LSU?I enjoy working with both undergraduate and graduate students to help build their understanding of the process of literacy development, and equip them to critically evaluate programs and policies that drive literacy instruction in schools. I also hope to expand my own research efforts by taking advantage of the incredible support offered by the College of Education's Office of Sponsored Projects.
What do you enjoy most about LSU?I most enjoy the camaraderie with other faculty members — in my own college and also campus wide. I got involved with the Faculty Senate as a way to work with colleagues from other colleges. I got that and more when I was elected to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee as a new member-at-large. As a result, I have enjoyed a very rapid education about many aspects of LSU and the wonderful people who work here.
What are your major accomplishments?I am most pleased to have been awarded a $3.6 million Early Reading First grant from the U.S. Department of Education to enhance the literacy environment of seven preschool classrooms in New Orleans public schools. At the end of two years to date, we have brought about significant gains in children's readiness for kindergarten, with our 4-year-olds in high poverty schools outperforming the benchmarks set by the federal government. My collaborator at the University of New Orleans, April Bedford, and I have developed a play-based, developmentally appropriate model for preschool literacy development that we are working to have replicated in other preschool programs.