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Finding Hope from a Distance

Thursday, May 28, 2020 by Anna Bourjaily - ACE 24, Sacramento

Anna Bourjaily ACE Blog - Hope from a Distance

I’ve grown accustomed to a new norm as a teacher: sleeping in.

Instead of my usual 6 a.m. alarm, since March 16th my alarm has gone off at 7:45, with just enough time for me to roll over in bed and grab my computer. From there, I sit and wait for my school Gmail to explode with notifications of assignments posting for the day. Within minutes, another set of emails arrives from students who are up and ready to go right at 8:00 asking for clarification in directions. Nine times out of 10, they read the directions too fast, but every so often I’ve forgotten to post something or forgotten a step in the directions. So begins another day of virtual instruction. This one will not end until close to 11 p.m., once I am done grading assignments and editing the next day’s assignments. The day finishes with a daily update video for my sixth graders explaining what to expect the next day.

Zoom with a Dash of Salt: Community Dinners in the Age of Quarantine

Friday, May 22, 2020 by Audrey Scott

ACE 21 Tampa Zoom Reunion

“We had this awesome house reunion on Zoom,” says Iona (née Hughan) Popa, who was a member of ACE 21 in Tampa. “Those relationships… I know that ACE has deeply influenced who I am.”

The Remaining Pages

Thursday, May 21, 2020 by By: Joe DiSipio - ACE 25, Sacramento

Joe DiSipio - The Remaining Pages

Joe DiSipio is a member of ACE 25 in Sacramento, where he taught fifth grade for the last two years at Saint John Vianney School in Rancho Cordova, California. When his time at SJV is complete, Joe will receive his M.Ed. and join the ACE Teaching Fellows Pastoral Team to help recruit and form future cohorts of ACE teachers.This piece was originally published in the SJV parish magazine, Built on the Rock


Have you ever read a great book that so captures your imagination that you feel immersed in this story, in this world, that you don’t want to finish the book? It is a conflicted feeling; as you see the remaining pages dwindle, you are torn between wanting to know what comes next and never wanting to leave this place you’ve come to love. Maybe you never wanted to leave Middle Earth, Narnia, Hogwarts or countless other lands. But the story must come to an end.

i-Ready Data Suggest Higher-Powered Learning is Addressing Educational Inequalities

Monday, May 18, 2020 by Kourtney Bradshaw-Clay

i-Ready Data Suggest HPL is Addressing Educational Inequalities

In the past few months, eLearning has become necessarily widespread because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Families have quickly implemented at-home structures to teach their children. Unfortunately, the extensive use of eLearning raises issues of equity. Two months after school closings, the New York Times wrote about the stark contrast between the eLearning experiences at a high-income school and a low-income school. This article highlights the differing experiences between two families who attend schools serving students from different income backgrounds. Similarly concerned with disparities during eLearning, EdSurge published an article discussing recent data from the software program, i-Ready. The latest data shows a set of troubling statistics that indicate usage data for the program is related to income levels – lower-income students are using the program at lower rates. Still, when they are using the program, they are using the program for longer periods than those in other income levels.

Accelerating the Transition to eLearning

Friday, May 15, 2020

Accelerating the Transition to eLearning

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to move to eLearning, many schools around the country and the world struggled to make this shift. In some cases, districts reduced instructional time, while in others it led to parent, student, and teacher frustration.

A Time for Everything

Thursday, May 07, 2020 by Bridgette McDermott

Clock - Time for Everything

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away...a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace…” - Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 4, 6-8

As I reflect on the past few weeks, these verses from Ecclesiastes have stuck with me. I have often found myself teetering between moments of pure hope and joy and moments of pain and sadness. We have all entered into a “new normal,” learning how to love and to sacrifice for those around us in the midst of social isolation and pandemic fear. It can feel challenging and difficult to weather this season of life and to remain hopeful in the process.

Inclusion: We Can Do That (Too)!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020 by Michael Faggella-Luby, Ph.D. Texas Christian University-Professor of Special Education ACE 5 (JAX) & PIE Consultant/Adjunct Facult

We Can Do That, Too!

The Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) collaborates with schools and dioceses across the country. The PIE team is humbled and graced in meeting many awe-inspiring educators as we see the fruits of their work while they cultivate our mission of inclusion in Catholic schools. This mission takes a village! 

Part of PIE’s village includes Dr. Michael Faggella-Luby, a professor of special education at Texas Christian University. In addition to his day job, Michael serves as a consultant and adjunct faculty in the Program for Inclusive Education. He is no stranger to the ACE family, given he is a graduate of ACE 5 after teaching English language arts and chemistry at Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Michael wrote a short story about his early days of ACE, about an adventure with his ACE community members that fits our journey–inclusion in Catholic schools. He shares his story below, along with an additional reflection. 

In times when our journey seems bumpy and we wonder about the success of our mission, please remember that it all begins with...We can do that!  

~ Christie Bonfiglio, Ph.D., Program for Inclusive Education - Director

Fostering Classroom Communities with eLearning

Tuesday, April 28, 2020 by Kourtney Bradshaw-Clay

Brigid Krause - Higher-Powered Learning Program

A month ago, schools across the country shut down and teachers prepared themselves and their students for eLearning. Many teachers and school leaders across the country scrambled to find resources to support their students. During this transition, Brigid Krause, a third-grade teacher at Community of Saints Regional Catholic School in West St. Paul, Minnesota, was concerned with acknowledging her students' needs while recreating her classroom community in an online setting. She followed a set of simple teaching practices to guide her transition to eLearning.

A Blessing of Technology: Modern Tea Time

Wednesday, April 22, 2020 by Audrey Scott

Sarah Slack ENL Hernandez Fellow“Teaching at Our Lady of Charity is my absolute favorite thing to do in the world,” says Sarah Slack, a member of the Hernandez Fellows’ 14th cohort. “I was homeschooled for middle-school, and my mom did this three o’clock hour with us every day. We would all come to the kitchen table, say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and then she would read to us. That’s how we read the whole Narnia series. I remember those times being, truly, so peaceful. That time was when my faith started to become my own and really started to flourish, so I wanted to try to do something like that for my kids.

What Will You Do?

Tuesday, April 21, 2020 by Katie Willis - ACE 25, Santa Ana

25 Santa Ana WillisWhen my school first shut down, my first thoughts were of all the things I could no longer do: see my kids, hang out with friends, or coach lacrosse. These thoughts were followed by all the things I was suddenly expected to do: teach online, stay in the house, and be “normal.” These seemed like impossible tasks, each riddled with challenges. 

Teach online? You may as well tell me I’m a first-summer ACE teacher leading practicum lessons the next day with no idea what a lesson plan is. 

Stay within the same four walls all day? I thrive off a busy schedule. I went from having a ready-made schedule to facing expectations of creating and sticking to a new routine, separating work and home life, and juggling family and friends. I struggled to handle it.

But in a recent conversation with my mom, she asked me to contemplate all the new things I could do during quarantine. 

Finding New Blessings

Wednesday, April 15, 2020 by Matt Sheber-Howard - ACE 25, Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City Skyline

This was supposed to be a “victory tour.” These post-spring break weeks were supposed to be a wonderful celebratory string of “lasts” at Mount St. Mary Catholic High School, a place that has meant so much to me for two years. This was supposed to be an incredible conclusion to an incredible two years. This is not how it was supposed to be.

Choose to Delight

Monday, April 13, 2020 by Shaughn Smith - ACE 26, Washington DC

Shaughn Smith ACE 26 DC - Virtual Field TripKenai Fjords National Park in Alaska | Photo from Wikimedia Commons

“Awe is going to rush in... Accept reality as it is and choose to delight in the present moment. Stay anchored there. That’s where the peace is, and that is where we are saved.”

Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ, shared these words last week as viewers across the country gathered behind screens and listened to a unifying message about searching for hope amidst these trying times.

Be Not Afraid: Lessons through eLearning

Monday, April 13, 2020

Be Not Afraid - Higher-Powered Learning

Did you know that the phrase “Be not afraid” is used in the Bible 365 times? Talk about a daily message from God! Fear is a great divider. It causes distance between people. It blocks grace from flowing freely and prevents ingenuity. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”

It is unrealistic during these times to never feel afraid, but I urge you to allow your faith to be bigger than your fear and to look for the things that are more important than fear.

Here are three truths that God has affirmed for me during these past few weeks. These truths inspire me to work for “something more important than fear.”

Together, We Can Do Hard Things!

Monday, April 13, 2020 by Christine Bonfiglio, Ph.D.

Photo by Guille Álvarez on Unsplash

The Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) would like to take this opportunity to applaud and thank Catholic school educators for their innovation and persistence in meeting the needs of all students. We are in an unprecedented time-both personally and professionally, and your dedication to your students is commended. Please know of our thoughts and prayers as you continue your good work on behalf of ALL students.

Find the Joy

Tuesday, March 31, 2020 by Tom Bergan - ACE 26, Louisville

Find the Joy

Xavier University has a prayer index on their website that I stumbled upon while I was searching for religion class resources at the beginning of the school year. Throughout this year, my fifth graders and I have used this index to find prayers of peace in times of global conflict, prayers for the environment in response to natural disasters, and prayers from other religions in efforts to increase our understanding of other faith traditions.

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