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Schoenig wins Parental Choice Award

by Theo Helm

John Schoenig talking to students

John Schoenig, ACE’s senior director of teacher formation and education policy, has received the Leonard F. DeFiore Parental Choice Advocate Award from the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA).

The award is given to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting full and fair parental choice in education.

“The people who drew me into this work were previous winners like Virginia Walden Ford and Jack Coons,” Schoenig said. “I’m deeply humbled by the award.” 

Schoenig has directed ACE’s Program for Educational Access since 2010. The program advances public policies that increase the accessibility of quality educational options for low-income families by working with church leaders and forming advocates for expanded family choice.

“John has really been a leader,” said Sr. Dale McDonald, the vice president of public policy for NCEA. “His work to train parents to advocate for school choice has been instrumental. Parents are the constituents of the people who pass the legislation.”

Under Schoenig’s leadership, ACE has formed more than 450 aspiring education reform leaders, many of whom are parents, through the Reform Leaders’ Summit. The summit is a yearlong cohort-based fellowship through which emerging policy leaders learn about themes related to choice policy expansion. Many of its participants have played critical roles in the design and implementation of new choice programs. 

The program also works with Church leaders to advance transformational education policy. The signature program in this area is the Bishops’ Conversation Series, through which ACE hosts strategy sessions for (arch)bishops to discuss opportunities to amplify the Church’s voice in education reform and capitalize on relevant opportunities. ACE has worked with more than 200 (arch)bishops through the Bishops Conversation Series over the past several years. 

“The landscape of family choice is going to continue to change rapidly in the next five years,” Schoenig said. “I want to make sure that ACE works with parents and advocates so that these changes fundamentally benefit marginalized families.”

As senior director of teacher formation and education policy, Schoenig also helps lead ACE Teaching Fellows. In this role, he oversees ACE teacher selection and placement, school partnerships, and overall program administration. He taught middle school English at Holy Rosary School in Shreveport, Louisiana, as a member of ACE 5. He has served on the pastoral and administrative teams for ACE and as the director of development for the Alliance for School Choice. He earned his B.A. and M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D. from the Notre Dame Law School. 

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