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ACE to Present Awards for Excellence

on Monday, 23 June 2014.

The Alliance for Catholic Education is pleased to announce the recipients of its annual awards will go to six outstanding ACE graduates whose service to the mission of Catholic schools have yielded diverse, important accomplishments. The awards and their recipients are:

Michael Pressley Award for Excellence in Catholic Education: Keiran Roche, Libby Brands
Michael Pressley Award for a Promising Scholar in the Education Field: Edmond Bowers, Ph.D.
Maureen T. Hallinan Award for Excellence in Catholic Education: Annette Romans
Scott C. Malpass Founders Prize: John O’Malley and April Garcia

The Pressley and Hallinan Awards, named in honor of distinguished scholars who contributed immeasurably to Notre Dame’s commitment to forming world-class educators and serving under-resourced children, will be presented as part of ACE’s Commencement ceremonies on July 12, 2014.

The inaugural Scott C. Malpass Founders Prize, to be presented on July 23, 2014, as part of ACE’s Missioning events, salutes two graduates of the ACE Teaching Fellows. This prize recognizes individuals’ embodiment of ACE’s three pillars—educational excellence, community life, and spiritual growth—leading to entrepreneurial, high-impact contributions in their communities.

Keiran Roche, of the ACE 13 and RLP 11 cohorts, has led one of the most extraordinary school transformations in the nation over the past two years. As principal of St. John the Evangelist Catholic School, a Notre Dame ACE Academy in Tucson, he has helped foster strong gains in reading and math achievement among students while doubling enrollment. The children at St. John, who live in the sixth poorest metropolitan area in the nation, have closed the achievement gap in less than three years. Roche previously served as a middle school teacher in Mobile, Alabama.

Libby Brands Vereecke, a graduate of ACE 13, taught at St. Catherine’s School and Sts. Peter and Paul School in Tulsa before her dedication to the neediest diocesan schools led her to become the director of development for the schools of the Diocese of Tulsa. She provided direction to the Tulsa Community Foundation and helped to bring ACE teachers back to the diocese in 2012. The Catholic education community of Tulsa knows her well for persistent, exemplary servant leadership. She and her husband, Matt, also a former ACE teacher and RLP graduate, continue to dedicate their life’s work to Catholic education.

Edmond Bowers is research assistant professor at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University in Boston. He previously taught middle school Science at St. James Major School in Mobile, Ala., as a member of the ACE 8 cohort, before spending a year with the ACE Ireland Program in Dublin. He earned a Ph.D. in applied developmental and educational psychology at Boston College. His cutting-edge research focuses on the influence of non-parental caregivers on the life-skills development of adolescents, as well as on parental roles in youth development.

Annette Romans did her first teaching in South Bend as a member of the ACE 11 cohort where she remained to become an essential part of the reshaping of school culture at St. Adalbert Catholic School. Over the past several years, her roles have included second grade teacher, resource teacher for the language lab, Title 1 teacher, ACE supervisory teacher, and board member for the school. She earned her certification for teaching English as a New Language through Holy Cross College, and she started an innovative student ambassador program at St. Adalbert. Her transformative and inspiring initiatives to teach those most in need resonate with the spirit of Maureen Hallinan.

John O’Malley is the principal of Youth Horizons, an urban Catholic school in Ireland. He coordinates ACE's initiatives in that country and is earning his Ph.D in educational leadership. He was instrumental in establishing the Diploma in Catholic Education at St Patrick's College in Maynooth, Ireland, which is the only qualification in Ireland designed to prepare teachers to teach in Catholic schools. His gifts of vision and collaboration have attracted partnerships that bridge the United States and Ireland and have built an especially active ACE Advocates region in Ireland. His initial formation as a teacher, as a member of the ACE 9 cohort, brought him to Pensacola, Florida.

April Garcia taught second grade at Holy Rosary School and St. John Berchmans School in San Antonio as a teaching fellow in the ACE 12 cohort, but she moved on to leadership positions in the Catholic schools of Los Angeles during and after her studies in the RLP 10 cohort. She established a highly innovative Early Literacy Program at Mother of Sorrows School, which she presented this year at the National Catholic Educational Association convention. She now serves as program director for Onward Readers, which prepares principals, teachers, and reading specialists and equips them with a research-based curriculum to reduce the achievement gap among disadvantaged students.

The Pressley and Hallinan Awards, now joined by the Malpass Founders Prize, go to distinguished educators annually on the Notre Dame campus during the busy “ACE Summer,” a time of formation for Catholic school teachers and leaders.

Michael Pressley was a prodigious and world-renowned scholar who served as the inaugural academic director of ACE’s Master of Education degree program. He died in 2008. All Pressley Award recipients reflect his dedication to service and scholarship for the benefit of children and Catholic schools across the nation.

Maureen Hallinan was the founding director of Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives. She was internationally recognized for scholarship in the sociology of education, as well as an equally inspired and beloved witness to faith. This award honors an ACE graduate whose continuing commitment reflects her transformative service to the Church and Catholic schools.

The Scott C. Malpass Founders Prize, named for the University’s vice president and chief investment officer, will be presented annually to two ACE Teaching Fellows graduates whose God-given talents of leadership, innovation, and commitment to service on behalf of the Gospel have shaped their vocations and transformed their communities.

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