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An Array of ACE Programs and People will Energize Summer at ND

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 29 May 2012.

The summer break at the University of Notre Dame will surge with energy as the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) begins its peak season. This internationally known initiative will welcome new classes to its formation programs for teachers and leaders and will host numerous campus programs and events for people passionate about sustaining, strengthening, and transforming Catholic schools.

ACE is best known for its ACE Teaching Fellows program, founded in 1993, to prepare young men and women from around the country to serve as teachers in under-resourced Catholic K-12 schools in more than two dozen dioceses. Nearly 90 newcomers in ACE's 19th class will arrive on Friday, June 1, to begin their formation in this two-year journey that culminates in an M.Ed. degree.

These competitively selected members of ACE 19 will join the ACE 18 teachers taking their second summer of courses, and all will spend eight weeks experiencing the pillars of ACE formation—excellence in professional service, community life, and spiritual growth. The two cohorts will live in residence halls and share retreats and daily Mass opportunities during their rigorous summer schedules. They will prepare to take up classroom duties this fall in numerous cities—from Brownsville, TX, to Washington, DC, from Los Angeles to Memphis to Tucson—serving children in Catholic schools while living in intentional ACE community houses near those schools.

ACE Teaching Fellows will be only one group of the growing ACE movement residing at Notre Dame during the summer. In addition, current educators preparing for careers as principals will arrive in June for their master's degree curriculum in the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program (RLP)—a 26-month formation journey that embodies all three ACE pillars and allows the teachers to return to their classrooms during the school year.

Other educators will come to campus in June and July to gain specific skills to make their Catholic schools more inclusive through ACE's English as a New Language (ENL) and Teaching Exceptional Children (TEC) certificate programs.

In all of the formation programs, key courses and relationship-building with instructors, mentors, and colleagues make for a dynamic summer, but the academic preparation and personal support from ACE faculty and staff extend throughout the year.

Every summer at Notre Dame is also the launching point for a number of initiatives and community-building opportunities established by ACE in response to emerging needs in Catholic education. ACE's summer conference schedule will convene educators and their supporters for a number of purposes, including professional development, skills and insights for advocacy, and strategic briefings for Catholic school superintendents, principals, and pastors. Registration is still open in some cases.

Among this summer's special events, ACE's collaborations responding to the severe educational challenges in post-earthquake Haiti have prompted a gathering of interested parties. Cosponsored by ACE and several organizations on and off campus, the meeting of researchers and benefactors will prepare next steps to aid Haitian schools and improve teacher training. (ACE's varied international activities also include education-related initiatives in Chile, Ireland, and Uganda.)

To help meet educational needs in the United States, one workshop will focus on the value of school choice policies for Catholic schools, along with insights for local advocacy of parental choice.

Symbolizing ACE's growing role as a generator of research in the field of Catholic education, the annual Remick Leadership Conference will leverage the "action research" projects required of all RLP degree candidates. They will share their solutions-oriented research with educators from the region around Notre Dame.

The 19-year-old Alliance will also host a conference for its own ACE Teaching Fellows—a select group of highly promising educators who have received benefactor support to pursue their aspirations as researchers and leaders with help from ACE mentors.

ACE's national movement in support of leadership in Catholic schools also gains strength through the bestowal of annual awards. The Notre Dame Award for Outstanding Contributions to Catholic Education will be awarded for distinguished lifetime service to children through Catholic schooling. The Michael Pressley Award for Excellence in Catholic Education will go to ACE graduates with a proven commitment to the highest standards in teaching and school leadership. The Michael Pressley Award for a Promising Scholar in the Education Field will go to an ACE graduate who has pursued service to Catholic education through cutting-edge academic research.

These awards will be presented during ACE Commencement exercises on July 14, during which the graduate-level formation programs will bestow degrees and a distinguished guest, University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan, will deliver the keynote address.

Toward the end of July, ACE also conducts an annual "missioning," solemnly but joyfully sending forth its educators-in-formation to the schools where they will serve at-risk children during the regular school year. The Most Rev. Joseph McFadden, Bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg, will preside at the Missioning Mass on July 27. Bishop McFadden chairs the Committee on Education of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Participants in the intensive experience called the "ACE Summer" will leave the Notre Dame campus having seen many ways in which ACE conveys its zeal and hope to sustain, strengthen, and transform Catholic schools. ACE, founded by Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., and Rev. Sean McGraw, C.S.C., embodies the commitment to Catholic education demonstrated by the Congregation of Holy Cross. The call of Holy Cross founder Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., for "making God known, loved, and served" is at the root of the energy surge that helps to renew both campus and visitors during the summer months.

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