LSU School of Education Associate Professor Honored for Contributions to Service-Learning
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 School.
“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 possible.
“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.