ACE, NCEA Partner to Create Unique Opportunity for Latino Leaders
Catholic schools in America have an impressive history of serving immigrant and marginalized communities in a Gospel-centered environment that honors the inherent God-given dignity, gifts, and culture of each child. Linguistically and culturally diverse students deserve to benefit fully from this legacy of Catholic education, which is uniquely positioned to serve their needs.
But while Latino children are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. school population, only 8 percent of teachers, 4 percent of board members, and 2 percent of senior education leaders are Latino. The majority of Latino Catholic school children may never be taught or led by a Latino teacher, principal, or administrator.
Research shows that representation matters, and Latino leadership is essential. A shared student and teacher identity can lead to improved academic outcomes, and seeing leaders who like them can broaden students’ ideas of what they can achieve.
The Alliance for Catholic Education’s Catholic School Advantage (CSA) and the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) have partnered to offer the Latino Educator and Administrator Development (LEAD) program, which aims to strengthen the Latino voice in both the classroom and school level nationally. This initiative is designed to invite, advance, and retain Latino educators in Catholic schools, as well as develop a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges that exist in this landscape.
LEAD is an idea born from a University of Notre Dame-convened national task force. The Task Force on the Participation of Latino Children in Catholic Schools published a report – To Nurture the Soul of a Nation – that articulated the cultural, ecclesial, and institutional dimensions implicated in the under-representation of Latinos in Catholic schools. A clear message in the report was the need to build Latino leadership in Catholic schools, and this new program is aimed at meeting this goal.
LEAD is a year-long fellowship in which participants engage in a curriculum designed to help them think critically about how Latino leadership and representation is rooted in three ideas: embracing, educating and empowering Latino students, families and communities through representative leadership. The participants will engage with the curriculum through small learning communities led by experienced Latino mentors, including two superintendents. Participants also will design and implement leadership projects in the spring to empower their own school communities. Finally, LEADers will come to Notre Dame's campus in summer 2021 for a culminating experience.
The first cohort of 17 LEADers kicked off their experience with a virtual welcome and orientation on July 24, which included introductions to the LEAD team, mentors, and remarks from John Staud, the executive director of ACE and acting director of the Institute for Educational Initiatives, and Kathy Mears, the interim president and chief executive officer of NCEA. Itzxul Moreno, the coordinator for LEAD, welcomed the keynote speaker, Dr. Luis Fraga, the director of Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies, and Fr. Joe Corpora, CSC, the director of ACE's University School Partnerships.
The LEADers come from 11 (arch)dioceses across the country—with 75 percent serving in urban Catholic schools—and have over 230 years of combined experience in education. Itzxul and Katy Lichon, the director of the CSA, are thrilled to be beginning a new program in the middle of a pandemic. “LEAD is a sign of hope during a challenging time for education and Latino communities. We are inspired by this first cohort of vibrant, energetic, and passionate LEADers.”
Learn more about LEAD, and ways to get involved with the Catholic School Advantage at ace.nd.edu/catholic-school-advantage/lead, or contact Itzxul Moreno at .