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ACE Graduates Honored for Outstanding Contributions to Their Fields

Written by Eric Prister on Thursday, 11 June 2015.

dsc 6600As part of an annual tradition to recognize the outstanding work of its graduates, the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) will honor five former ACE Teachers who have set themselves apart with their commitment to their fields of expertise.

The Michael Pressley Award for Excellence in Catholic Education is awarded to ACE graduates who have distinguished themselves in making significant contributions to the ministry of Catholic Education. The Michael Pressley Award for Promising Scholar in the Education Field honors an ACE graduate whose work in academia echoes Dr. Pressley’s commitment to strengthening education through research and scholarship. Both awards will be presented as part of ACE’s Commencement ceremonies on July 11, 2015.

The Scott C. Malpass Founders Prize, to be presented on July 22, 2015, as part of ACE’s Missioning events, recognizes individuals’ embodiment of ACE’s three pillars—forming professional educators, building community, and growing spiritually—leading to entrepreneurial, high-impact contributions in their communities.

The Michael Pressley Award for Excellence in Catholic Education.

  • Steve Tortorello served as a middle school language arts teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes School in East Los Angeles with ACE 15. After ACE, he returned home to Chicago and to his alma mater, Marian Catholic High School. At Marian, Steve served as a freshmen English teacher, an Advanced Placement history teacher, and a moderator for the Kairos program, and quickly earned the praise of his students as an outstanding educator and a faith-filled member of the community. Concurrently, Steve pursued a degree in the Remick Leadership Program, and in 2014, at the age of 28, Steve was named principal of Marian Catholic. He is the first layperson to hold the principal position at Marian.

  • After serving in Jackson, Mississippi at St. Therese in ACE 10, Kate Linden Sampson went on to teach Theology and serve as Campus Minister at Duchesne Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school in Omaha, NE. Subsequently, she served as Assistant Director for Academic Initiatives at Creighton University before becoming the Director of Development at NorthStar Foundation, an all-boys after-school program in North Omaha. Two years ago, she assumed the leadership role of Director of Magis Catholic Teacher Corps, the University Consortium of Catholic Education partner program at Creighton University in Omaha. Sampson has already infused the program with her commitment and energy, and her experience has brought enthusiasm and new ideas to the UCCE.

The Michael Pressley Award for a Promising Scholar in the Education Field

  • Anna Jacob Egalite, Ph.D., taught fourth grade at Sacred Heart Interparochial School in St. Petersburg, Florida, with ACE 14. After her time there, she spent a year teaching in her native home of Ireland before returning to the United States to begin graduate studies at the University of Arkansas. Egalite earned her doctorate in Education Policy from Arkansas in 2014, earning the Outstanding Graduate Student Award and a host of other accolades. She has served as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Education Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government for this past year. Her cutting-edge research, which focuses on the effects of teachers of color on the educational performance of students of color, has been featured in peer-reviewed journals and profiled in the New York Times. This fall, Anna will begin her position as a tenure-track assistant professor of education at North Carolina State University.

The Scott C. Malpass Founders’ Prize

  • Jennifer Ehren, Ph.D., taught chemistry and biology at St. John High School in Biloxi, Mississippi with ACE 6, and then went on to begin her career as a pharmaceutical chemist and engineer. She earned her doctorate in chemical engineering from Stanford University in 2008 and, since that time, has served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Jonas Salk Institute for Biological Studies, where she works in the cellular neurobiology laboratory and helps to develop potential therapeutics for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Ehren’s work has been nationally recognized, and she has spoken eloquently about her own successful fight with cancer, which, she said, has made her an even better, more determined, and more compassionate researcher.

  • Greg Gomez began his highly accomplished educational career as a member of ACE 11, teaching middle school science and religion in South Central Los Angeles at St. Malachy School. After graduating from ACE, he remained in Los Angeles as a Catholic school assistant principal and then continued his graduate studies at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Since that time, Gomez has served children in Catholic schools in Houston, Texas, through a variety of roles. He was a founding faculty member at Cristo Rey Jesuit College Prep in Houston, where he also directed professional development for teachers. In 2013, he was appointed Cardinal DiNardo’s Special Liaison to the Inner-City Schools of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, and worked with pastors, principals, and archdiocesan leaders to develop a strategy for the inner-city Catholic schools of Houston to remain vibrant and sustainable. This past year, Gomez accepted the offer to serve as principal of one of the inner-city Catholic schools of Houston, St. Francis of Assisi.

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