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A Look Inside the 2019 AICSN Summer Institute

on Tuesday, 10 September 2019.

By: Collin Gortner

Planes, trains, and automobiles transported more than 40 teachers, school leaders, and stakeholders to the University of Notre Dame for the 2019 Amerian Indian Catholic Schools Network (AICSN) Summer Institute. Educators from all seven AICSN schools, as well as the Better Way Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, traveled to campus from Arizona, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, and South Dakota.

The theme of the 2019 Summer Institute was “The Joys and Challenges of Working with Middle School Students.” Noteworthy events included professional development sessions, meetings, panels, and opportunities for networking among attendees. 

Mike Hougen, principal at St. Mary’s Mission School in Red Lake, Minnesota, said that the Summer Institute was “the best opportunity for professional development in the entire year.” Another attendee commented that the opportunities for collaboration and networking were appreciated. All speakers and sessions received high marks from attendees in a post-Institute survey. 

The professional development sessions were hosted by former ACE teachers and current ACE faculty. Dr. Maria McKenna led an engaging session on collaborative classrooms. Meghan McDermott discussed middle school classroom management. A session on reaching diverse learners in the middle school classroom was led by Lindsay Will. ACE’s Pursuing Achievement through Higher Education (PATH) team presented on college conversations in the middle school classroom. Lastly, Judy Madden discussed mental health and wellness for middle school students.

In addition to these presentations, school leaders broke out for collaborative meetings. Brianna Nez, Dr. Brian Collier, Maka Clifford, and Ruth Ficaro facilitated a panel on Native spirituality and the American Indian Catholic school. 

Summer Institute attendees had ample time to socialize, share best practices, and form relationships with educators in other schools. Opportunities for networking were available at an opening dinner in South Dining Hall, a trip to Silver Beach at Lake Michigan, and a closing dinner in St. Joseph, Michigan. Mass was offered in the Christ the Teacher Chapel and opportunities to explore campus were available through guided tours led by the intern team. 

Thank you to everyone who attended this year’s conference. We are excited to see the ways in which these educators utilize the skills and knowledge gained at the Summer Institute in their classrooms during the 2019-2020 school year. Good luck, we’ll be rooting for you!

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