One of the most exciting parts of joining ACE is the opportunity to live in community and to grow alongside fellow teachers and friends. I assumed, though, that I would have to wait until summer for these moments of community to emerge. However, the April retreat provided exactly the type of community I hoped I would encounter in ACE—several months sooner than expected.
During the first moments of our April Retreat, John Schoenig, Senior Director of ACE Teaching Fellows, made sure that all those attending the retreat – principals, superintendents, and future ACE teachers – grasped just how remarkable our meeting was. We came together because we share something special and unifying: a firm desire to serve in Catholic education. Even without knowing what the future may hold, such a rare gathering should be admired for happening.
To highlight this, John showed us pictures of other prominent meetings, including ones of the Solvay Conference of 1927 and of “A Great Day in Harlem” from 1958. The former is known as the most intelligent picture ever taken, with Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Neils Bohr leading the list of the world’s greatest scientists of the time in attendance. These connections between great minds led to a new direction in science. The latter is a picture of 57 of the best jazz musicians of their era who came together in New York, gathering in camaraderie. Each would go on to accomplish great things and would continue to do so after their meetings.
Unified in purpose, these meetings primed talented groups of people to continue doing their work while realizing their newfound direction and solidarity. I hope ACE 24 can make a similar impact on the students and communities we will serve and learn from during our two years in ACE, remembering the solidarity we have in our mission.
I realized then that the ACE community—my new community—is rooted in this same sense of solidarity. However, our unifying purpose is found in following Christ. The assembly of so many aspiring and current Catholic educators provided both inspiration and hope that the shared vision of Catholic education is not only alive but is also deeply connecting. As administrators and future teachers connected, our inherent community as Christians made in God’s image began to be unveiled more fully. Recognizing the shared purpose in education, I became even more excited that I’ll grow close to this community as part of ACE 24. The possibility of living in my new community of Philadelphia with others focused on the same Catholic realities of life, striving to foster them in their own teaching and service to their students, provided me with a sense of hopeful joy as I begin my time in ACE.