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Foundations of Formation

An ACE teacher’s experience is founded on the three pillars of the program – teaching, community and spirituality. The integration of these three pillars throughout the ACE experience plays a valuable role in the formation of ACE teachers. ACE teachers build community in their classrooms and at home; they grow spiritually as a result of their work in school and in the community life of the house; they become better teachers through the support of their peers, supervisors, and colleagues and through the many opportunities for spiritual growth. Through the three pillars, ACE seeks to provide its participants the preparation and formation to become professional educators, build loving communities, and live active, faith-filled lives. 


The ACE M.Ed. intensively prepares teachers by integrating graduate level coursework with an immersion teaching experience. Throughout their two years teaching in under-resourced Catholic schools, ACE teachers earn a cost-free Master of Education degree from the University of Notre Dame. Upon graduation, they are eligible for licensure in the state of Indiana. The ACE Team works with ACE graduates seeking to transfer their license to other states.

ACE Teaching Fellows spend two summers living and studying at Notre Dame. The centerpiece of the summer program is an innovative teacher-preparation curriculum, taught by select faculty and experienced practitioners. Building on their coursework, ACE Teaching Fellows also engage in supervised field experience in local schools. During the school year, they take a limited number of distance-learning classes which directly relate to their classroom teaching experiences.


ACE espouses a vision of community centered on the active promotion of the common good in a variety of social contexts: home, school, nation, and Church. Year after year, community becomes a source of life and energy for ACE teachers and serves as an inspiration to build dynamic and life-giving communities beyond their time in the program. 

ACE teachers live in small communities of 4-7 members and together share the many rewards and challenges of teaching. ACE teachers are called to grow together, to support one another, and to challenge each other as they develop personally, professionally, and spiritually. Weekly evening sessions during the summer and retreats throughout the year provide ACE teachers with skills for building successful communities. In addition to the support ACE teachers receive from one another, ACE’s Pastoral Team both supports and challenges ACE teachers in their personal, communal, and spiritual lives.


The spirituality of ACE is rooted in the belief that we are called to an encounter with Christ the Teacher. Grounded in the Catholic faith, ACE emphasizes an invitational spirituality and welcomes teachers of all faiths and denominations. We encourage the development of personal spirituality and faith in the context of community, sharing with one another the journey of becoming committed Catholic school teachers.

Pastoral formation efforts strive to meet ACE teachers were they are and invite them to a deeper relationship with God and a deeper sense of how their service and life in community are connected to their spirituality. As Catholic school educators, ACE teachers have the opportunity to form and guide their students in their faith lives, which in turn shapes their own. Additionally, they have the opportunity to participate in retreats, Mass, and the sacraments while receiving spiritual support, direction, and challenge from the Pastoral Team.