When I emailed ACE legend Alec Torigian to ask if I could feature him in a blog post, this was his response:
“I am so not a model of successful or smooth blending of learning at this point, but if you want the vantage point of a dude who randomly tried because he knew his kids deserved it and plans to get much better, then I'm in.”
Wednesday, November 08, 2017
by Amanda Walsh - ACE 23, New Orleans
When my second graders at St. Joan of Arc School in New Orleans heard about Hurricane Harvey, the news struck them particularly hard. Many of them have relatives in Houston, and the images of the flooding and destruction were difficult to comprehend. After my principal asked our classrooms to figure out how we could help, we decided that we wanted to do something besides hosting a classroom food drive. We created a community action plan, which included asking not just our friends and family members for donations, but also asking our neighbors.
Most of us have heard the tales about Catholic schools with low enrollment and poor academic performance that adopt blended learning as a final effort to remain open and offer a high-quality education to more students. But we don’t often hear about schools that already have high-performing, full classrooms and challenge themselves to innovate. In fact, it is easy to understand why the leader of such a school might think, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
When we design professional development sessions, trainings, or classes, we always toe the very delicate line between (1) making blended learning seem very simple by presenting a limited view, and (2) totally overwhelming the participants by presenting every possible iteration of the annoyingly broad term, “blended learning.” We try to help teachers adopt a specific approach to blended learning that we believe maximizes student learning and enhances the human dignity of both students and teachers without boxing the teachers into a single model.
The first time I saw blended learning in action was in 2012, when I visited one of the first two Catholic schools to implement a blended-learning model. The school was a diocesan Catholic school that partnered with a group called Seton Education Partners, which at the time consisted of the organization’s founder, Stephanie Saroki de Garcia, and the schools’ blended-learning coordinator, Jeff Kerscher (ACE 15, by the way).
Sunday, October 01, 2017
by By: Adam Farchone - ACE 23, Tampa
During my second ACE summer, I heard a lot of stories from ACE grads about the second-year teaching experience. Maybe it was because I asked more questions, or maybe it was because these seasoned ACErs saw the curiosity in my eyes and were more than willing to offer a few pieces of advice to an eager almost-second-year teacher.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
by John Cunningham, ACE 25 Intern
During my sophomore year of high school, I first heard the call to serve. Ms. McGuire, my literature teacher at Bishop Kelley High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, asked the class to pick a dream job. For some reason, my response was “teacher.”
When I think of Cindy Hayden, a veteran teacher at St. Philip Neri Catholic School with 36 years of experience, I think of sunshine. Cindy exudes positivity, enthusiasm, and love in everything she does, especially when she interacts with her first-grade students. When I entered her classroom for the first time last year, I saw smiling students working hard on meaningful assignments–a sure sign of leadership by an outstanding teacher.
My daughters Elizabeth (age 6) and Catherine (age 4), constantly create. Whether coloring blackline pictures, drawing freehand, cutting things out, glueing, taping, dancing, or singing, they create incessantly.
Thursday, August 31, 2017
by Karen Gilmore - ACE 23, Baton Rouge
Returning to my school after my second ACE summer felt like how I imagined Lucy felt when she returned to Narnia through the wardrobe after trying to relay her experiences to her siblings to no avail in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Ascension Catholic High School was a place where I experienced exciting and difficult things, where I forged relationships with people most of my friends and family were likely never going to meet, and where my worldview changed profoundly.
In the wake of the horrific events in Charlottesville, Virginia, knowing that racism and violence still have a prominent place in our nation is frustrating and embarrassing. I am acutely aware of my own white privilege as I write this, knowing that it is my place of privilege that allows me to just be frustrated and ashamed of this situation rather than imminently threatened and afraid. My heart goes out to those facing discrimination and violence and I pray for greater tolerance and love in our communities.
In a previous post about Lessons Learned for Expansion, I mentioned that the implementation plan for blended learning at our next two Notre Dame ACE Academies – Central Catholic and St. Philip Neri – looks different than it did at Holy Angels last year. From our pilot, we learned that we need to focus on school leadership, slow down the implementation timeline, and make a more deliberate effort to develop institutional capacity and expertise. Our new plan for implementation is centered on Blended Learning Leadership Teams.
Friday, August 11, 2017
by Luke Janicki - ACE 22, Peoria
ACE Teaching Fellows graduate Luke Janicki (ACE 22 - Peoria) offers a two-part reflection on his experiences in the classroom and how he used his Spanish speaking skills to create connections in the broader school community. Part two is below and part one is titled, "Teachers as Translators: Doing the Unexpected".