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LSU Today Flagship Faculty

Mark Jarrell

Margaret-Mary Sulentic Dowell

Associate Professor
School of Education
LSU College of Human Sciences & Education

What was your previous position and where?

Prior to joining the LSU faculty in 2006, I was assistant superintendent for Area I (elementary) in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, or EBRPSS, where I supervised 64 elementary sites from 2002-2006. I was recruited to EBRPSS from an assistant professorship at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss., where I was employed from 1999-2002. I earned my Ph.D. in education with an emphasis in literacy studies from the University of Iowa in 1999. I spent 20 years as a public school teacher in the Waterloo Community Schools in Iowa and earned an MAE in reading education in 1989 and a B.A. in secondary English, both from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. In addition, I am a national board certified teacher in the area of early adolescence/English language arts. In 2007, I was awarded the Kenneth S. Goodman “In Defense of Good Teaching Award”; and in 2012, I was awarded the Outstanding Teaching Award from the former College of Education, now the College of Human Sciences & Education.

What brought you to LSU?

The unique and amazing opportunity to work at Louisiana’s flagship university, situated in a large urban metroplex where ample opportunities exist to study literacy in urban contexts.

What are your research interests?

My research agenda includes three strands and is focused on literacy in urban settings, specifically the complexities literacy leadership, providing access to literature and service-learning as a pathway to prepare pre-service teachers to teach literacy authentically in urban environs. I am the current editor of Literacy & Social Responsibility eJournal, a journal of the International Reading Association.

What do you hope to accomplish at LSU?

Research informs practice; in tandem with colleagues within the School of Education, the College of Human Sciences & Education, the wider campus community and educators throughout the state, I hope to deepen understanding of the intricacies and difficulties of teaching literacy and literacy leadership in urban environs through sustained research.

What do you enjoy most about LSU?

LSU is an amazing environment in which to work, and the most enjoyable aspects are the colleagues with whom I work and the opportunities afforded to me as faculty. I perceive both Baton Rouge and New Orleans as educational laboratories where I can study the challenges of literacy practices in urban education.

What are your major accomplishments?

Traversing the research fields of literacy and educational leadership, through several studies conducted while at LSU, I have sought to identify the knowledge and skill sets necessary for literacy leadership at the elementary level and to establish a framework for a hybrid field, literacy leadership. Studies in urban public school systems including charter schools have led to current work on a survey that would reflect specific knowledge and skill sets regarding literacy leadership. While work on the survey is in progress, my intent is to create a survey instrument, validate it and then conduct wide spread administration.


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