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A New Year’s Resolution Inspired by New Teachers

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


“What are you looking for in a candidate?”

I hear this question a lot while coordinating off-campus recruiting for ACE Teaching Fellows. My answer reliably centers around the three pillars of our program — formation as a professional educator, community building, and spiritual growth — since these are the three non-negotiable priorities of a Catholic school teacher, especially one choosing to live in intentional Christian community with other recent college grads as ours do. Get experience with real-life students, I say, and ideally in a classroom setting, because it’s different than how you remember it. I often enumerate the character traits that we ask recommenders to comment on: grit, zeal, self-awareness, organization, gratitude, leadership, integrity, and openness to spiritual growth.

An Advent Call to Discipleship

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


I once taught a student who made me think daily about “building community,” something near and dear to our hearts at ACE. He often sat alone during partnered work in math, simply refusing to engage—he didn’t reach out to the community, but no one reached out to him either.

A New Hope: Catholic Schools and “The Force Awakens”

Friday, December 18, 2015


A long time ago, in a diocese far, far away . . .

. . . women and men lined up outside movie theaters across the country, wearing costumes and waiting with breathless expectation for the most anticipated film in years. At last, the weekend had finally arrived in which the world could all witness the cinematic masterpiece that is Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Road Chip.

Just kidding.

Kitchen Table Connections (or 5 Ideas to Re-Envision Homework)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 by Clare Roach, M.Ed.


I don't need to read the newspapers or the latest Edutopia guest blog to encounter the great homework debate. I need only sit down at my kitchen table on any given afternoon to identify with both sides of the argument. On one hand, I can see that homework extends learning outside the classroom and provides extra opportunities for practice and scholarship. But I can also sympathize with opponents of homework who argue that it cuts into family time and is too often meaningless and rote.

Why the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Is a Win for Catholic Schools

Monday, December 14, 2015


For a more detailed look at the original ESEA and the effects of the new ESSA on Catholic schools, see this memo from friend of ACE Steve Perla.

When the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was signed into law in 1965, it was seen as a milestone on the path to ensuring every student had fair and equal opportunities to receive an excellent education.  For many, this was great news.

With a focus on closing the achievement gap between low and middle income children, the legislation was a marquee piece of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” Despite the significant changes that have come with reauthorization every five years since 1965, ESEA hasn’t strayed too far from its original purpose; namely, aiming to provide all children with equitable educational opportunities. Again, encouraging news.

ACE Blog Roundup: End of the Semester Got You Feelin’ Grinchy?

Friday, December 11, 2015

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Here are some Catholic Ed Stories to Make Your Heart Grow Three Sizes:

For many Catholic school educators out there, there’s only a few more days until the long-awaited Christmas break. Whether you’re a teacher in a rush to create final exams or a school leader working to get all of your ducks in a row in time for break, here are a few major stories in both the Catholic and educational (and oftentimes both) world to read if you’re looking for little break.

Celebrate Advent a la Mexicana with Las Posadas

Wednesday, December 09, 2015 by Katy Walter Lichon, Ph.D.

LasPosadasBlogPhoto credit: Barbara Johnston, University of Notre Dame

Are you are looking for ideas on how your school can be culturally responsive and sustaining for Mexican-American students this Advent? You may want to consider celebrating Las Posadas. This interactive and vibrant tradition of seeking posada, Spanish for accommodation or an inn, is more than four hundred years old and provides students a rich experience in which to engage their faith.

Our team in ACE’s English as a New Language Program have compiled what we hope will be helpful resources for teachers, leaders, and students to better understand the celebration of Las Posadas and incorporate it into your school’s holiday celebrations.

The Critical Family-School Connection

Friday, December 04, 2015 by James M. Frabutt, Ph.D.


Last week I had the opportunity to present to the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Charlotte. Hosted at Charlotte Catholic High School—and with a few past, current, and hopefully future Remick Leaders in attendance—the presentation focused on faith, parents, and Catholic education.

The talk draws on a qualitative analysis that colleagues and I conducted by isolating what more than thirty Church documents—dating back to 1885–had to say about parents and Catholic education (summarized in an ACE Press Publication, Entrusted in Faith, Frabutt & Rocha, 2009; see also Frabutt, Holter, Nuzzi, Rocha, & Cassel, 2010).

One of the prominent themes derived from these documents is that parents are the primary and principal educators of their children, and they best model the Christian life by being witnesses of the faith themselves. The documents build on that foundation, however, by stressing that parents do not bear this responsibility alone. In the true nature of community, they bring to fulfillment the education of their offspring via deep partnership with teachers and educators.

Hurrah for the Pumpkin Pie!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 by Matt Kloser, Ph.D.


Imagine this charge: write a blog post that integrates the mission of Catholic schools, Thanksgiving, and STEM education. Impossible you say? On the contrary…

Considering School Leadership? Here are 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

Friday, November 20, 2015


As admissions coordinator for the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, I spend a lot of time talking to both teachers and school leaders. I’m fortunate to get the chance to work with many of our current Remick Leaders and graduates — many of whom are principals themselves at the outset of their careers in leadership. They are passionate, energetic, and full of zeal to make God known, loved, and served. They’re doing great work and it’s part of my job to find more of them.

3 Winning Calls from the Playbooks of Exceptional Teachers

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 by Erin Wibbens, Ph.D.


In my work, I am blessed to be in and out of Catholic schools and classrooms all across this country where teachers and students are engaged in the work of teaching and learning. It is true that there are many things on a teacher’s to-do list and, truthfully, that list often feels bottomless. It is also true that the very best teachers I have known attend to a few things exceptionally well. Below is a list of three instructional ideas for more powerful and engaging classroom work:

Have Catholic Schools Missed the Bus on Blended Learning?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

img 3033Blended learning has become a buzzword (or buzz-phrase, perhaps) in education circles, praised as the next big thing in education reform, or criticized as just the next education fad. Is blended learning helpful for students, and more specifically, how can blended learning be helpful—and potentially game-changing—for the unique context of Catholic schools?

I sat down with ACE’s blended learning experts—T.J. D’Agostino, who has helped incorporate successful blended learning models into a number of Catholic schools across the country, and Fr. Nate Wills, C.S.C., whose doctoral scholarship and research focused on blended learning in K-12 Catholic schools—to talk about blended learning and how well it translates to the Catholic schools context.

Three Tips to Consider Before Asking for Donations

Monday, November 09, 2015 by Mary Frances "Frankie" Jones

Start Your Donor Ask With These Two Words

December is fast approaching - ‘tis the season of annual appeals and Christmas donation requests. Those who work on the budget side of Catholic schools are usually all too familiar with “the gap.” In many of our Catholic schools, especially those serving low-income families, the tuition we charge does not cover the cost to educate. This revenue gap must often be bridged through the generous donations of benefactors because raising tuition would price out the families we serve. Given the urgency and challenges surrounding fundraising efforts, much attention and time is often devoted to disseminating best practices. As the Director of Development for Saint Ann School in Chicago I found workshops on crafting a compelling appeal letter, tips for engaging your alumni base, and strategies for perfecting “the ask” to be readily available.

Four Things Every Effective School Leader Does

Thursday, November 05, 2015

4.4.14 ace bus tour chicago 7Today’s school leaders, especially in Catholic schools, wear innumerable hats — curriculum specialist, instructional coach, advancement director, public relations officer, human resources expert, and assessment specialist, just to name a few. Central to all of this is also the crucial role of the principal as spiritual leader of their school — directing the Catholic culture and spiritual growth of the faculty and students,  while still fulfilling all of their other duties.

These tasks might seem overwhelming, and prioritizing can be a real challenge. Here are a few tips that can lend clarity to the often-muddled set of tasks for which  school leaders are responsible:

Celebrating Your School's Cultural Diversity

Tuesday, November 03, 2015 by Clare Roach, M.Ed.


If you want to know how to host a great Culture Night at your school, borrow a play from the playbook of Walt Disney Elementary in Mishawaka, Indiana. To cast a spotlight on the richness of their wonderfully diverse community, this school has hosted a Culture Night every May for the past 16 years. "Every year we try to add a new element as our school and the event evolve," says faculty coordinator and music teacher Robi Davidson. "This is the event at our school that makes me most proud to be a teacher at Walt Disney."

"It really brings our learning community together," says assistant principal Ryan Towner. "At Disney, we speak 23 languages. Most of our families live in nearby apartments and don't always get enough opportunities to interact with one another at school. But on Culture Night, our school community turns out. It's an opportunity to be unified by pride in our children and to celebrate all the richness and benefits we get from being such a diverse community."

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