04/21/2014 03:27 PM
BATON ROUGE – LSU School of Education Associate Professor Margaret-Mary Sulentic Dowell
was selected for the 2014 Outstanding Faculty Contributions to Service-Learning in
Higher Education Award by the Gulf South Summit on Service-Learning and Civic Education
in Higher Education.
Sulentic Dowell was recognized at the 2014 Gulf Summit at Auburn University in Auburn,
Alabama on March 27.
“I was awed and absolutely thrilled to garner this national recognition based on my
scholarship and work in service-learning,” said Sulentic Dowell. “Successfully completing
research studies and having subsequent manuscripts accepted for publication is a reward
in itself for me; being recognized by national colleagues is extra meaningful.
Sulentic Dowell partners with Westdale Heights Academic Magnet school, or WHAM, engaging
pre-service teachers in her EDCI 3137 Assessing & Guiding Classroom Reading Instruction
class with first grade students struggling with reading and writing skills. Her students
spend one-on-one time tutoring children at WHAM while gaining experience in teaching
in an urban setting. The pre-service teachers also hold small group sessions, progress
meetings with teachers, and a final parent/child conference. Sulentic Dowell’s partnership
with WHAM continues the work she did previously for four years with Children’s Charter
“The difference between my service-learning class and regular field experiences is
that field experience gives exposure to teaching,” said Sulentic Dowell. “My service-learning
classes take it to the next level by responding to the needs of the school. My students
do not put in hours with students, but form relationships with the students. The one-on-one
tutoring provides extra time with an adult that cares about them. Parents of students
that participate in the tutoring aspect of the service-learning class receive a detailed
report of Tutoring and Assessment at the end of the semester.”
Many factors have contributed to Sulentic Dowell’s success in the classroom, particularly
her passion for teaching and guiding her students toward becoming the best educators
“Teaching is my vocation,” she explained. “I am a career educator. When I worked as
a superintendent, I saw the need to help elementary students. Teaching is about creating
opportunities for students, so that they can have a better future. What I want most
from my students is for them to understand civic engagement.”
Sulentic Dowell called the award “amazing.”
“Community engagement is important work. As a career educator and associate professor
working in the areas of literacy and urban education, service learning defines my
research,” she added. “Earning this award brings notoriety to the School of Education,
and underscores the tremendous community engagement the College of Human Sciences
and Education supports throughout the state and region, and it reflects positively
on LSU as a whole.”
Nominated by School of Education Associate Professor Jacqueline Bach, Sulentic Dowell
was selected for her leadership in teaching, research and advocacy for service-learning.
Award recipients have to demonstrate evidence of collaboration with community partners
and/or service beneficiaries in course design as well as demonstrate a sustained commitment
by incorporating service-learning consistently for at least three academic terms.
“I am thankful that I have colleagues such as Dr. Bach, who understands the intricacies
of service-learning, was familiar with my work in this field, and who took the initiative
to nominate me,” said Dowell.
Sulentic Dowell’s service-learning pedagogy not only creates measurable impacts for
LSU and WHAM students, but has also influenced many professors in the LSU College
of Human Sciences and Education to use service-learning in their curricula. Sulentic
Dowell serves as a mentor to many faculty members interested in service-learning.
She also received the LSU Outstanding Faculty Service Learning Award in 2013, the
Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award in 2012, and the Kenneth Goodman in Defense of
Good Teaching Award in 2007. These awards recognize her teaching and scholarship,
which focuses on literacy in urban settings, specifically service-learning as pedagogy
– a pathway to prepare pre-service teachers to teach reading and writing authentically
in urban environs, the complexities of district literacy leadership, and providing
access to literature, writing and the arts. She is National Board Certified in the
area of early adolescence-English language arts. Sulentic Dowell began her career
as a professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she was named an Academic-Service
Learning Faculty Fellow in 2001. Following her tenure at USM, she was the assistant
superintendent of elementary schools in East Baton Rouge Parish from 2002-2006. Sulentic
Dowell has been a faculty member at LSU since 2006.
The mission of the Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement through
Higher Education is to promote networking among practitioners, research, ethical practices,
reciprocal campus-community partnerships, sustainable programs and a culture of engagement
and public awareness through service-learning and other forms of civic engagement.
The LSU School of Education offers graduate and undergraduate programs in curriculum
and instruction and in educational leadership, research and counseling. The school’s
mission is to prepare P-12 educational professionals to be leaders, practitioners
and scholars knowledgeable in contemporary educational issues. Visit the School of
Education at lsu.edu/education.
The College of Human Sciences & Education is a nationally accredited division of LSU.
Formed in 2012, the college brings together programs and capitalizes on individual
strengths to create a dynamic new college that addresses the socially significant
issues we face as a state and nation. The college is comprised of the School of Education,
the School of Human Resource Education and Workforce Development, the School of Kinesiology,
the School of Library and Information Science, the School of Social Work and the University
Laboratory School. These combined schools offer eight undergraduate degree programs
and 18 graduate programs, enrolling more than 1,900 undergraduate and 977 graduate
students. The college is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching,
research, and service and is continually working to improve its programs. Visit the
College of Human Sciences & Education at chse.lsu.edu.
LSU service-learning is coordinated by the Center for Community Engagement, Learning and Leadership, which promotes learning, student leadership, and community engagement through service-learning activities and community partnerships. For more information, visit http://www.ccell.lsu.edu.
Posted on Monday, April 21, 2014