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Catholic Schools Debunk the Myth of Unteachability

Monday, February 01, 2016 by Laura MacLean

Pens need to be vertical. Every teacher knows that. When a student’s wrist goes limp and his pen falls to the desk, it’s trouble. It’s the sign of despair, the sign that the mental willpower to tackle a problem has been exhausted.

Catholic Schools Week 2016 - For Our Communities

Sunday, January 31, 2016 by Caela Carter


Chicago Jesuit Academy, where I was blessed to work for four years, is a place of hope. Although it is surrounded by violence and poverty, and although the students are choosing to use their already-tough middle school years to do something incredibly daunting, the attitude of these young men and their teachers, families, and benefactors is consistent: work hard, love well, pray often and there are great things waiting on the horizon.

Catholic Schools Week: 3 Ways to Celebrate All Students

Saturday, January 30, 2016 by Jennifer Dees, M.Ed.


Beginning tomorrow, Catholic school communities across the country will seize the opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary gift that we have in Catholic education. Most schools mark this festive week with special liturgies, open houses, and fun activities for students and families. As we began to prepare for the week with our own children's schools, my colleagues and I in the English as a New Language team wondered how we might ensure that students and families from every tradition feel included in the celebration.

Catholic Schools Week 2016 - For Our Parishes

Saturday, January 30, 2016 by Fr. Nate Wills, C.S.C.


"The seeds of faith, sown at his Catholic school, drew Gabe’s family together in faith and made them an inspiration for the parish"

When I was an associate pastor at St. Joseph parish in South Bend, Indiana, I met a fifth-grade boy named Gabe who wanted to become Catholic. Gabe learned about our Catholic faith in his religion classes, he went to Mass with his classmates, and he decided he wanted to be baptized. His parents sent him to a Catholic school, but Gabe’s family didn’t go to Mass on Sunday and his parents didn’t quite know what to make of their son’s desire to join the Church. But they were supportive of their son and took him to Mass one Sunday. The spark of Gabe’s enthusiasm and faith spread to the rest of his family and I started to see them at Mass every weekend. Not long after, Gabe’s dad joined RCIA, his little sister was baptized, and his mom who had grown up Catholic, came back to the Church.

What U.S. Catholic Schools Can Learn from Education in Haiti

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Without windows.

Without lights.

Oftentimes without basic school supplies.

As we visited Catholic schools in Port-au-Prince, I found myself wishing there was something we could do to provide these children with the type of education that many of us experienced, an education where so many things are provided and even taken for granted.

Making the Dream a Reality: 3 Challenges from Dr. King

Saturday, January 16, 2016 by Alec Torigian


As a young man with no smartphone and poor map reading skills, I naturally got lost the first time I drove to see the school at which I would teach in Mobile, AL. Everything and everywhere was new, and I had no idea how to get around. Then I saw it…Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. I knew my school was the last historically black Catholic school in the Archdiocese, and I knew it played a role in the city’s civil rights movements, particularly in the ‘60s. With only that information, I headed toward the street sign and took the turn in faith; sure enough, I eventually stumbled upon the beautiful old school I would be blessed enough to call home for the next two years.

The Key to a Successful School Year? Try Joy

Thursday, January 07, 2016 by Kole Knueppel


During my time as a school leader, we regularly set a goal to have the most joyful school in the country.

We reminded our team and family of teachers that as ambassadors of Christ and his church, there must be a marked difference between our school and the schools down the street. To live distinctively as a disciple of Christ does not mean that we carry ourselves in sanctimonious, somber obedience, grimly waiting for eternal rest. Instead, the closer we are drawn to Christ, the more light and tender-hearted our outlook can be.

Why What We Believe about Students Really Matters

Wednesday, January 06, 2016 by Mary Frances "Frankie" Jones


In the current political climate of education reform and high-stakes accountability, we often hear calls for “higher expectations.” For those of us invested in the work of transforming Catholic schools, we wouldn’t argue for lowering them.

ACE's Top Stories of 2015

Thursday, December 31, 2015

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As we prepare for the ball to drop, for a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne, and to ring in the New Year with loved ones, New Year’s Eve also gives us a chance to look back at the year we’ll be leaving behind. Here at ACE, we’d like to share with you our top stories from 2015, a year filled with blessings for all those who devote their lives to Catholic schools.

Plus, what’s more fun than a countdown?

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.

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