Applying for ACE Teaching Fellows was one of the best decisions I have ever made. My experiences in ACE shaped me in ways I can only begin to understand, and my time spent with my cohort, my community members, and my students will be time that I cherish throughout my life. Putting yourself out there and applying can be daunting, so with the help of other members of the ACE 28 and 29 cohorts (most notably Ryan Smith, Meredith Nowotarski, Alex Weishan, Ian Daly, and Emily Markley), I have put together four tips for your application and discernment process.
- Know your WHY
Throughout the process of discernment, it is helpful to reflect on why you might pursue one path over another. Knowing your why will help you when it comes to the application, the interview process, and, if God wills it, throughout your time in ACE. Some questions to consider here: Why am I applying to ACE? What about ACE aligns with my passions and goals? How am I hoping to change and grow through this program? Maybe your answer is that you love working with kids and you find service fulfilling. Maybe you want to get out of your comfort zone and develop professional skills. Maybe you have always wanted to be a teacher. Maybe you are inspired by the energy of the ACE team, and want to see what all the hype is about. Or, maybe your “why” is a combination of these things. Whatever it is, knowing it will provide you with a foundation for the rest of the application process that you can continue to return to as you discern if ACE is right for you.
- Gather stories
This might be my favorite tip, as it proved very helpful during my own discernment and application process. Chat with as many people as you can who taught in the ACE program, including members of the ACE team. What was their favorite part of their teaching experience? What was the most difficult part? Which M.Ed courses did they find most interesting? What was it like to live in community? Then, after hearing their stories, ask if they can connect you with someone else who served with ACE. You can even ask them to connect you with a current ACE teacher (hi!) or an ACE Intern or Ambassador. The more stories you hear, the more you will be able to decide if you can see yourself as an ACE teacher.
- Be you.
ACE Teaching Fellows attracts people from all different backgrounds, interests, majors, and universities. You have something special to offer, even and especially if your application looks different than the person next to you. In your interview, be authentic in showing who you are and why you think you are someone young students can look up to. Just showcase what excites you most about the opportunity to serve and teach for two years!
- Embrace uncertainty.
Several certainties come with being in ACE (you will teach somewhere in the United States, you will live with super cool people, and you will be challenged, inspired, and changed), but many aspects of your ACE experience will remain uncertain, even after you say “Yes.” I remember the exciting yet also strange feeling of telling friends and family that I would be teaching with ACE, but when they asked where I would be or what classes I would teach, until placements came out, I didn’t have an answer. Never in a million years would I have been able to anticipate the joy of living and teaching in Oklahoma City, not even when I knew that I was going to be serving with ACE after graduation. So, my advice is to embrace that uncertainty! You have no idea what immense joy and amazing people are on the other side.
If you are considering teaching with ACE, I highly encourage you to take that leap of faith and apply! We in ACE are cheering you on, and are always happy to support you in your discernment and application.