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The ACE Blog

Opening Doors for Inclusion

Thursday, April 08, 2021 by Christie Bonfiglio, Ph.D. - Director, Program for Inclusive Education


Catholic schools are called to serve all students regardless of learning differences. In fact, Catholic Social Teaching and Church documents specifically outline our responsibility to individuals with disabilities. It is clear that schools and educators do not fundamentally oppose opening the doors to students with disabilities. We have a heart to welcome every learner. The obstacle most often expressed is one of resources–lack of knowledge, financial support, or personnel to meet unique student needs. Accessing Title funds are one way to provide these resources and remove the barrier so all students have the opportunity to attend Catholic schools.

A Day in the Life of an ACE Teacher

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 by Maria Corr - ACE 27, Oakland

Maria Corr - Day in the Life of an ACE Teacher

I always thought that a teacher’s job began and ended with the school day. They wake up around 6, get to school by 7, teach back-to-back classes until the final bell at 2:30 in the afternoon, go home after an hour of grading or a faculty meeting, and then spend the rest of their evenings how any other person would – perhaps a workout, a nap, family time, or TV time. 

With nearly one full academic year of teaching under my belt (ahh!), I can easily confirm that a teacher’s job does not exist exclusively between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. The daily logistics (planning, grading, meetings), ever-expanding to-do lists (emails, class newsletter creation, more emails), and emotions (joyous celebrations, occasional heavy-heartedness, and, this year, frequent Zoom fatigue) that characterize the beautiful busyness of education cannot be confined to eight hours each day. 

Wireless Connection: Student Engagement in a Hybrid Setting

Monday, March 29, 2021

Higher-Powered Learning Blog Engaging Students in Hybrid Setting

“I’m not in the room with half of my students, how do I make sure they’re getting all they can from class?”

We’re often asked by teachers in the Higher-Powered Learning Program for resources to engage students working online. While our blended learning practitioners felt more prepared to transition to distanced/hybrid learning, these learning situations still pose unique challenges for engagement. Below are several approaches to engagement we’ve found successful; we hope these resources and strategies will increase student engagement both now and after we all return to the classroom.

ACE Intern Uncovers a Desire for Teaching by Digging into Data

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 by Kenta Sachen - ACE 28 Intern

My freshman year, I became a founding member of a baseball analytics team here at Notre Dame. Although I’ve never played baseball, it has always been my favorite sport, so I was enamored with the opportunity to “play” baseball with analytics. Led by a couple of juniors, we focused on researching college baseball, and then we worked with the varsity team to provide them with data-driven insights for practices and games. I was brand new to the technical aspects of our work and strived to be a diligent student learning from these juniors.

A Sixth Grade Girl and Her Six Lessons on God

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 by Michael Kenney - ACE 26, Twin Cities

On my way to proctor breakfast duty, I think about the four minutes following our morning bell. Soon, at 9:15 a.m., the first bell will ring, giving students four minutes to head from breakfast to homeroom and granting me those same, precious four minutes to print the eighth-grade religion worksheets, send a student to the office for morning announcements, stick an IEP form in a colleague’s mailbox, and if all goes according to plan, grab a cup of coffee in stride to class.

We Are Not a Lukewarm People

Friday, March 12, 2021 by Joe DiSipio

“But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.”  - Luke 15:19

Sometime last year, in the space between the New Year and the start of Lent, Kalie Paranzino led our Sacramento community in a beautiful prayer centered on finding and painting our “word” of the year that could become an easily-repeated meditative prayer mantra. When we hung up our five words in our dining room, we did not know what this year would hold or what those words could come to mean.

Surveying the Learning Environment - Part 2: Learning Environments during COVID-19

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Higher-Powered Learning - Surveying the Learning Environment Part 2

In Part 1 of this series we defined four perspectives teachers take to create effective learning environments according to the How People Learn framework. In Part 2, we propose ways of sustaining, bolstering, and deepening these environments considering current COVID-19 guidelines.

Inclusion in Catholic Schools? It’s Here!

Monday, March 08, 2021 by Christie Bonfiglio, Ph.D. - Director, Program for Inclusive Education

Program for Inclusive Education at the University of Notre Dame

Catholic schools are called to serve all students. We see this call in scripture, Church documents, and in Catholic Social Teaching. In the Old Testament, it is clear through the stories of creation and deliverance that each person has God-given dignity, for we are made in His image. In the New Testament, there are countless examples of community and inclusion, as Jesus reached out to the margins and welcomed all people – speaking, gathering, and breaking bread with them. Jesus was the radical includer! Church documents support the inclusion of people with disabilities, the poor, and refugees. All are Welcome should be more than rhetoric...it should be joyously practiced.

Surveying the Learning Environment - Part 1: Qualities of Successful Learning Environments

Monday, March 01, 2021

Higher-Powered Learning - Surveying the Learning Environment

Your class is just… different now. In fact, it’s undergone numerous iterations, reversals, and adjustments of which “different” it is. Room layout changes one week, then distance learning the next, and sometimes your class is moved completely outside. Through all the tumult, you must cultivate a learning environment that serves your students: mind, body, and soul.

"The mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart."

Wednesday, February 10, 2021 by Connor Ruff | Frassati Intern - Cohort 3 | Computer Science ‘22 | Archdiocese of Chicago

Connor Ruff Frassati Internship

"The mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart."

To a Notre Dame student, these words, plastered around University advertisements and brochures, perhaps have become a bit trite. But the Frassati Internship dares you to consider this idea beyond just your First Year Experience course and gives you the opportunity to do so.

What Catholic Education Has Taught Me

Tuesday, February 09, 2021 by Rachel Rell | Frassati Intern - Cohort 3 | Marketing and Theology ‘22 | National Catholic Educational Association

From kindergarten through eighth grade, I attended a very small Catholic school in central Wisconsin. St. Francis was the only Catholic school in my town, and one of only fourteen Catholic elementary schools in the northern half of the state. I certainly enjoyed my time at St. Francis, but saying that I moved on to high school and college without fully recognizing the impact my school and church had on my life would be an understatement.

Celebrate Good Times? Even Amid a Pandemic, Catholic Schools Bring the Joy

Monday, February 01, 2021 by Tim Will

Celebrate Good Times? Even Amid a Pandemic, Catholic Schools Bring the Joy

“Umm...what are we celebrating, Miss Ogden?”

The voice came through Kathy Ogden’s computer speakers, barely audible over the uplifting beats of “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang.

“We just finished our first full day of virtual learning!” was Kathy’s energetic answer.

The Road to Inclusion

Friday, January 29, 2021 by Patti O'Donnell, PIE 2 - Principal, St. Patrick Catholic School in Malvern, PA

The Road to Inclusion - Patti O'Donnell, Program for Inclusive Education at the University of Notre Dame

The Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) is pleased to include educators (teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, etc.) in the 18-credit hour program. Any educator who would like to learn about serving ALL students inclusively is welcome. Patti O’Donnell is a member of the PIE 2 cohort and the principal of St. Patrick Catholic School—a blue ribbon Catholic school in Malvern, Pennsylvania. She has a heart for inclusive education and has transformed her school. Patti serves as the guest author for PIE’s February 2021 blog. Thank you, Patti, for your tireless efforts and good works as you welcome, serve, and celebrate ALL students at St. Pat’s!

~Christie Bonfiglio, Ph.D.; Director of the Program for Inclusive Education

PIE...A Perfect Addition to Your Educational Training

Sunday, January 03, 2021 by Jessica Martin - PIE 3, ACE 24 - St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic School (Dallas, TX)

The Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) trains educators from all across the country of varying ages, ethnicities, and content backgrounds. It is our sincere pleasure when an ACE graduate joins our mission.

Jessica Martin of PIE 3 was one of those ACE Teachers with a heart for inclusion and a passion to learn more. She shares her story and advocates that others take the next step on their educational journey and prepare for ALL learners.

I am grateful that Jessica works tirelessly to welcome, serve, and celebrate ALL students! Thank you, Jess, for your good works!

~Christie Bonfiglio, Ph.D.; Director of the Program for Inclusive Education

Making Pandemic Changes Count: Part 3 - Shape the Path to Change

Monday, December 07, 2020

"Switched" by brendonhatcher is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0"Switched" by brendonhatcher is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Large-scale school change is possible and can come from the leadership of individual teachers. Higher-Powered Learning has contextualized the first two pieces of Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch framework for school change, directing the rational side and motivating the emotional side. In this final post, we will consider how to shape the situational context of change. We hope this series will promote school improvement as an expectation in your school, even beyond  the pandemic. This, of course, requires you to be the leader.

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