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20 Year

Ernest Morrell Combines Faith, Love of Teaching in New Role at Notre Dame

Theo Helm on Thursday, 13 July 2017.

Ernest Morrell Director of Center for Literacy Education

When Ernest Morrell graduated from college, he had a chance to pursue a fully-funded graduate fellowship at the Harvard Business School or a lucrative career in finance with Bank of America. 

"Experience Michiana" Visits the ACE Bus

on Tuesday, 08 July 2014.

WNIT's Gordy Young visits campus to discuss the Bus Tour with Sarah Perkins and Drew Clary

Sarah Perkins and Drew Clary welcomed Gordy Young from "Experience Michiana" to campus to discuss the Fighting for Our Children's Future National Bus Tour. 


ACE's National Bus Tour Comes Home

on Tuesday, 10 June 2014.

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After traveling 30,000 miles to visit more than 16,000 Catholic school students throughout the past year, the Alliance for Catholic Education’s celebration of the gift of Catholic schools is just beginning.

The Fighting for Our Children’s Future National Bus Tour visited 65 K-12 Catholic schools across 35 states to celebrate the vital role these and thousands of other Catholic schools play in serving poor and marginalized students and their communities. According to ACE’s founders, those 30,000 miles are just the first step in changing the narrative on Catholic schools — a narrative that has been plagued with school closures for the last decade.

“The story being told in Catholic schools should be one of zeal, one of joy and one of promise,” Rev. Timothy R. Scully, C.S.C., founder of the Alliance for Catholic Education at the University of Notre Dame, said. “We set out with the mantra that ‘Catholic schools are good for America,’ that they are absolutely vital for our children, our communities and our nation. The stories we have witnessed on the road and the amazing people we have met along the way have deepened our commitment to Notre Dame’s mission to serve these sacred places.”

Father Scully noted that research clearly shows a continuing Catholic school advantage. Ninety-nine percent of Catholic school students graduate high school on time, and 85 percent attend college. Studies also show that Catholic school graduates tend to be more civically engaged, more likely to vote, more tolerant of diverse views, more committed to service as adults and less likely to be incarcerated than their peers.

Despite this advantage, Catholic schools have struggled in recent years. ACE’s tour, and its mission to strengthen, sustain and transform these schools, set out to raise awareness of the success of this proven model and of the profound impact the schools have on nearly two million students who attend them.

“The future of Catholic schools is bright, but our work is just beginning,” said Rev. Sean McGraw, C.S.C., who co-founded ACE 20 years ago with Scully. “We continue to engage in an effort to provide solutions to what is certainly America’s greatest civic challenge: ensuring that every American child, especially the most vulnerable, has the opportunity for a quality education.”

The National Bus Tour kicked off in Dallas in October 2013 in conjunction with the Notre Dame Shamrock Seriesfootball game before visiting schools and honoring local education champions in the Midwest and on the East Coast. In November, as the bus rolled into New York City, the Manhattan Institute honored Father Scully with the William E. Simon Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Social Entrepreneurship for his founding and leadership of ACE.

The bus headed south in February to revisit ACE’s roots and long-standing partnerships throughout the Gulf Coast. March featured visits throughout Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas, while April included trips to Chicago and Minnesota. The tour wrapped up the 2013-2014 academic year in May with trips through West Coast cities.

On Monday (June 9), the University of Notre Dame will welcome the bus and the ACE team home, and will honor two members of the South Bend and Notre Dame communities — Jay Caponigro and Maritza Robles — with the University of Notre Dame Champion for Education Award. ACE will also present the Notre Dame Sorin Award for Service to Catholic Schools to Brian and Jeannelle Brady, without whom the bus tour would not have been possible. The homecoming coincides with the start of the ACE Summer, when more than 800 teachers, school leaders and Catholic school supporters — including 95 new teachers who make up ACE ACE Teaching Fellows’s 21st cohort — converge on Notre Dame’s campus for leadership formation and other opportunities focused on building a brighter future for Catholic schools.

Contact: Bill Schmitt, 574-631-3893, @ACEatND@theACEBus

Passion for Catholic Schools is Ageless; Ambassadors of Hope Prove it in Denver

on Wednesday, 14 May 2014.

Notre Dame Award Recipient and ACE Grandmother Describes Youthful, Enduring Gifts of Time and Love

This story is written by Mrs. Joanne Horne, who received the University of Notre Dame Sorin Award for Service to Catholic Schools during our National Bus Tour's visit in Denver. She is the grandmother of Meghan Hanzlik (ACE 13) and Gillian Hanzlik (ACE 18).

03.12.14 - Denver - Horne The idea of the Ambassadors of Hope Program was sparked twelve years ago as I sat at a Seeds of Hope luncheon. Seeds of Hope is a charitable organization that funds over 1,000 disadvantaged children a year to attend a Catholic school in the Archdiocese of Denver, Colorado. 

As a proud grandmother of two ACE graduates, I have watched as the men and women of Seeds of Hope work tirelessly to raise money for this cause, and I thought there had to be something people of my age (50-80) could do.  What we have is time to donate.  With the help of the director of Seeds of Hope at that time, and our own St. Thomas More Parish, the idea of volunteering in these Catholic schools had its beginnings.

Twelve ladies from St. Thomas More visited St. Rose of Lima and St. Francis de Sales schools. We decided in one afternoon to send six of our group to St. Rose of Lima and six to St. Francis de Sales the following week as volunteers. Ambassadors of Hope was born!

Today, we have approximately 100 volunteers in seven of our area’s twelve inner-city and underprivileged schools!

We started with the idea that we would do anything the schools needed, and we have not wavered from this commitment.  Today we are librarians, teachers’ aides, math and reading tutors, office helpers, and anything else these schools need that we can provide!  Jeanne Courchene, who was principal at St. Rose of Lima when the Ambassadors began, says, The Ambassadors of Hope are loving and caring and willing to do whatever is needed. They gave extra help to struggling students, graded papers, read to students, and in general became "Grandmas" in the classrooms.  The children loved the volunteers and were loved in return.  It's hard to say who benefited the most–the students or the volunteers. The program was a smashing success, and it didn't stop with classroom aides. These savvy volunteers saw other needs in each school and stepped up to solve them. St. Rose of Lima's beautiful library is the direct result of this program.”

We are there to serve and in “no way to be served.”   We have gained much! Of the original twelve volunteers, ten are still volunteering, while the other two have stopped only due to health constraints.  As Lee Murphy, one of the original twelve volunteers said, “I understand that the schools feel we are helping them, but no one can express how much these children, teachers and principals have done for us.  It is a wonderful feeling to know in our later years we still have something to give, which is our time and love to these dear children.”

Ambassadors of Hope costs nothing to join, for either the volunteers or the schools.  It is a win-win proposition!  We love the children and they love us, and we feel like we are doing something worthwhile in our later years for future generations. The only requirements needed are the love of the mission of Catholic schools and time. We are inspired and feel called to serve by the Gospel of Matthew 19:14:  “Let the children come to me, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Seeds of Hope has estimated that our Ambassadors have provided over $250,000 of volunteer hours to these schools annually.  What these schools have provided to us in return is priceless! Find some volunteers, contact your local Catholic school, and Ambassadors of Hope can be serving your schools too!

Gillian Hanzlik (ACE 18) is currently a kindergarten teacher at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Academy in Denver. “The ambassadors are the perfect expression of St. Therese's 'small things with great love,'" she commented. "These volunteers are here to do anything we need, with the greatest love in their hearts for our children. Each ambassador is a blessing to our school.”

Photo: Educators Gillian Hanzlik (ACE 18) and Meghan Hanzlik (ACE 13) are granddaughters of Joanne Horne, our University of Notre Dame Sorin Award for Service to Catholic Schools winner. Horne is seen holding the award, in front of Father Lou DelFra, director for spiritual life in ACE.

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