Sometimes You Can Go Home Again: Lutrill and Pearl Payne School of Education Professor, Sulentic Dowell, Presents at Her Alma Mater, alongside Renowned Children’s Author

January 17, 2023

BATON ROUGE, LA - The Lutrill and Pearl Payne School of Education professor, Margaret-Mary Sulentic Dowell, PhD, was recently invited by The Richard O. Jacobson Center for Comprehensively Literacy, housed at the University of Northern Iowa, to present a writing session at The Young Readers and Writers (YRW) Conference. Sulentic Dowell conducted two writing sessions with 4th and 5th grade students from two local Iowa communities, Waterloo, her hometown, and Cedar Falls, home to the University of Northern Iowa where Sulentic Dowell earned two degrees (her terminal degree was earned at the University of Iowa). As their teachers observed, Sulentic Dowell worked with the two groups of the elementary-aged students on authentic writing focused on topics based on their neighborhoods, communities, and cities.
Sulentic Dowell was born and raised in Waterloo, Iowa, and she taught for 15 years in the Waterloo Community Schools. Both of her parents, from immigrant families, migrated to Waterloo from Chicago, their point of entry. Sulentic Dowell has firmly settled into her adopted state of Louisiana, having lived and worked in the Deep South since 1999, and at LSU since 2006, but she often thinks about the fact that she IS a long way from “home.” She was able to revisit that history in November as she presented at the YRW Conference alongside renowned children’s author, Renee Watson. Watson is a prolific children’s author, who has been awarded both a Coretta Scott King Award and a Newbery Honor. Coincidentally, Watson teamed up with another Waterloo, Iowa resident, Nickole Hanna-Jones, who spearheaded the ground breaking 1619 Project. Watson and Hannah Jones co-wrote the children’s book, Born on the Water.
During the YRW conference, Watson shared her work and read her Where I’m From Poem. Each child who attended received one of her books and were invited to ask the author questions about writing, an event few children experience. After the YRW Conference, Sulentic Dowell, together with several other presenters, traveled the 6 miles to Waterloo and visited Hannah-Jones’s 1619 Freedom School, an after-school literacy project for children from the Waterloo, Iowa, public schools. For Sulentic Dowell, that trip was the culminating experience of her visit back to the Midwest.

Sulentic Dowell was flattered to have shared the venue with Watson. She commented, “Sometimes you feel like you come full circle in life. This was one of those moments for me on several fronts. Renee Watson was amazing. Of course, I am awed at her corpus of work and at the chance to share a setting with her. Visiting the 1619 Freedom School with Renee was a highlight of the entire experience. In an unfortunate era of book banning and censorship, I witnessed yet again the power of literacy.” In addition to her status as faculty in the Lutrill and Pearl Payne School of Education, Sulentic Dowell is also Associate Director of Research and Policy for the unit and Director of the LSU Writing Project.  
Dr. Laura Hensley Choate, Interim Director of the Lutrill and Pearl Payne School of Education provided the following, “Congratulations to Dr. Sulentic Dowell for the honor of being invited to provide writing sessions to students in her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa and in Cedar Falls, the home of University of Northern Iowa where she received both her MAE and BA. I am certain that it was a meaningful visit for Dr. Sulentic Dowell, and also an empowering experience for the students who participated.”

About Lutrill and Pearl Payne LSU School of Education (SOE) 
A school of the College of Human Sciences & Education, the SOE offers undergraduate programs for students who want to pursue a career as a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teacher or acquire dual certification in both traditional elementary and special education classrooms. Besides providing graduate certification in Instructional Coaching, educational technology, and urban & community education, the SOE offers a writing pedagogy minor, and a master’s degree in arts, arts in teaching, education (MEd), education in counseling (MEd), certificate of education specialist (EdS) and PhD. The School’s mission is to prepare educational professionals to be leaders, practitioners, and scholars knowledgeable in contemporary educational issues. Educational leadership programming in the Lutrill and Pearl Payne School of Education encompasses an on-line masters degree, an educational specialist degree, a certificate in Instructional Coaching, and a PhD in Educational Leadership & Research: P-12 Educational Leadership.     
About  LSU College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) 
The College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. The college is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Leadership & Human Resource Development, the School of Library & Information Science, the School of Social Work, and the University Laboratory School. These combined schools offer 8 undergraduate degree programs, 18 graduate programs, and 7 online graduate degree and/or certificate programs, enrolling more than 1,900 undergraduate and 1,120 graduate students. The College is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is committed to improving quality of life across the lifespan.

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