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ACE Commencement Honors Graduates for Service and Leadership through Teaching

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 17 July 2012.

UVa President Dr. Teresa Sullivan is Commencement Speaker

The University of Notre Dame bestowed 104 graduate degrees Saturday, July 14, upon a next generation of Catholic school teachers and leaders who completed their periods of formation with the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE).

ACE's annual Commencement exercises, held at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, drew encouragement from keynote speaker Dr. Teresa Sullivan, President of the University of Virginia, who praised the graduates' "ethic of service." A good teacher-student relationship is the basis for transforming lives, she said, regardless of how much technology or pedagogical theory might change.

"What will remain is the essential thing—the eager student working under the careful guidance of a dedicated teacher," said Sullivan, whose research as a sociologist has probed educational opportunities for inner-city students among other subjects.

A total of 81 graduates from ACE's ACE Teaching Fellows program, who had pursued their studies while teaching in Catholic K-12 schools in underserved areas around the country, capped their two-year formation by receiving the Master of Education (M. Ed. degree).

Twenty-three graduates from ACE's Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program (RLP), whose 26 months of formation prepared them to be principals and other leaders in Catholic education, received the M.A. degree in educational administration.

Dr. Christine Maziar, University Vice President and Senior Associate Provost, conferred the degrees. Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., Ph.D., director of Notre Dame's Institute for Educational Initiatives and co-founder of ACE, called the graduates "sources of vitality and love and courage and learning" for Catholic schools.

The ACE Teaching Fellows graduates were described as the "ACE 17" cohort because that program has been sending forth young teachers to help sustain, strengthen, and transform Catholic schools since ACE's founding in 1993. The "ACE 1" class began its formation in 1994 as a regional service initiative, out of which the program's pillars of professional service, community life, and spiritual growth were to evolve and endure.

Three ACE graduates from earlier cohorts received awards as part of this year's ceremony. The seventh annual Michael Pressley Award for Excellence in Catholic Education went to Molly Carlin and Kyle Pietrantonio, who are both outstanding school leaders in the Atlanta area. Carlin, who has degrees from both ACE Teaching Fellows and the Remick Leadership Program, is beginning new duties in the 2012-2013 school year as principal of Queen of Angels Catholic School in Roswell, Georgia. Pietrantonio will serve as associate head of school at Holy Spirit Preparatory School in Atlanta.

The second annual Michael Pressley Award for a Promising Scholar in the Education Field went to Dr. Michael Faggella-Luby, an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Connecticut. After graduating from ACE, he received his Ph.D. in special education from the University of Kansas.

The Michael Pressley Award for Excellence in Catholic Education each year goes to two graduates of ACE Teaching Fellows who have made significant contributions to the ministry of Catholic education. The Michael Pressley Award for a Promising Scholar in the Education Field goes to an ACE formation program graduate whose work in academia echoes Dr. Michael Pressley's commitment to strengthening education through research and scholarship.

Dr. Pressley, whom these awards honor, was a prodigious and world-renowned scholar who served as the inaugural academic director of ACE's M. Ed. degree program.

ACE's 2012 Commencement also served as the backdrop for the bestowal of the Maureen T. Hallinan Award for Excellence in Catholic Education to Dr. Erik Goldschmidt. A ACE Teaching Fellows graduate, Goldschmidt is the Director of the Church in the 21st Century Center at Boston College. Dr. Hallinan, the founding director of Notre Dame's Institute for Educational Initiatives, is one of America's leading sociologists of education.

Sullivan, in her keynote remarks to the Commencement audience, made reference to John Henry Cardinal Newman and his famous writings about education. She drew upon the importance Newman gave to the relationship between teacher and student and to the education of the whole person. Offering a model to the ACE graduates, she said great teachers "help form our character and attend to our spiritual as well as intellectual development."

Addressing the Remick Leadership Program graduates, she urged these Catholic school leaders to identify their priorities and to stay conscious of what's important. "We cannot let the important things suffer for the sake of resolving the urgent things," she said. Sullivan also urged the degree recipients to never stop learning: "Lifelong learning creates lifelong leaders."

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