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Perla Honored for Leadership in Service to Catholic Schools

on Wednesday, 11 December 2013.

Elizabeth Ann Seton Award Reflects Hometown Gratitude for Guiding Schools in Worcester Diocese

By Caroline Lang

Senior director of the Alliance for Catholic Education, Stephen A. Perla, M. Ed., received the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award for his service to Catholic schools at the annual St. Paul Catholic Schools Consortium dinner on Nov. 7.

Since the 1970s, the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award has honored members of the community who have made significant impacts in the area of Catholic education.

St. Paul Consortium was established in 2007 to serve Catholic schools in North Worcester County, including Leominster, Fitchburg and Gardner, Mass. Since then, the board of directors has recommended people for the Seton Award to the diocese, most recently including Steve Perla.

Perla joined ACE in June 2008 when he was appointed the first director of ACE Consulting. Before becoming the superintendent of Catholic schools in Worcester in 2004, Perla served for more than 10 years as the founding executive director of the Parents Alliance for Catholic Education, a Massachusetts group which advocates on behalf of students and Catholic schools. He has also served in a variety of administrative positions in higher education and as mayor of Leominster, Mass., from 1988 to 1992.

As a member of Notre Dame’s national Task Force on Catholic Education, he contributed to the report it published in December 2006, Making God Known, Loved, and Served: The Future of Catholic Primary and Secondary Schools in the United States. ACE Consulting developed as a direct result of this report in order to provide administrators and Catholic school advocates with high-quality, affordable consultative guidance in marketing, strategic planning, investing and other areas essential to school success.

Since ACE Consulting’s inception in 2008 under Perla’s leadership, the program has launched major initiatives and forged strong relationships with many (arch)dioceses, inclduing Chicago, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Tampa, and Tucson.


"Catholic School Advantage" Innovator Rudy Vargas Honored for Latino Ministry

Written by William Schmitt on Wednesday, 04 September 2013.

Vargas, Field Consultant with ACE, Receives William Sadlier Dinger Award

Rudy Vargas, a New York City-based field consultant with the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), has received the 2013 William Sadlier Dinger Award for Ministry in the Hispanic Community.

Vargas, who works directly with Catholic schools to increase Latino enrollments in the Archdiocese of New York through ACE’s Catholic School Advantage campaign, accepted the award Aug. 28 from publishing executive William Sadlier Dinger. The presentation occurred during the annual conference of the National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry.

The award recognizes Vargas’ numerous “contributions to the Hispanic community in America during the past 25-plus years,” said Dinger, president of William H. Sadlier, Inc. He told Vargas, “Your deep faith and many skills have made you a source of blessing to so many people.”

Vargas joined ACE in 2010 to help advance the nationwide Catholic School Advantage campaign to boost Latino access to Catholic schools. He is the executive director of the Northeast Hispanic Catholic Center, serving 34 dioceses in the Northeast United States.

His previous work in ministry included service as executive director of the Center for Catholic Lay Leadership. He was also president of the National Catholic Association of Diocesan Directors for Hispanic Ministry.

He serves as a board member of Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).

His contributions to ACE’s partnership with the Archdiocese of New York include the advancement of an innovative “madrinas” initiative in archdiocesan schools, encouraging respected family members in Latino neighborhoods (such as madrinas, or godmothers) to spread the good word about Catholic schools among local families.

Vargas commented that his years of experience with Hispanic ministry “helped give me a good understanding of how to organize the madrinas program” for the Catholic School Advantage campaign. He said he has benefited from a “network of support” among Hispanic Catholic leaders at the local and national level, helping him to develop new leadership through the madrinas.

ACE’s Catholic School Advantage campaign is a nationwide effort to double the enrollment of Latino children in U.S. Catholic schools. Insights from the campaign, such as inviting the support of madrinas, are being implemented in schools around the country as a growing number of principals embrace the financial, cultural, and managerial strategies for increasing Latino access to Catholic schools and helping to keep inner-city Catholic schools open.

Dinger is president of William H. Sadlier, Inc., a publisher of print, digital, and online educational materials and of Catholic catechetical materials. A Notre Dame alumnus, Dinger is known for his support of K-12 education and Catholic education in particular.

The William Sadlier Dinger Award for Ministry in the Hispanic Community, established in 2009, recognizes an individual or organization for outstanding leadership strengthening the Church in the Latino community.

Rodolfo Vargas IV holds a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) Empire State College and a master’s degree in pastoral leadership from Fordham University.

Photo courtesy of William H. Sadlier, Inc.: At the award presentation, William Sadlier Dinger (left) and Rudy Vargas.

Symposium Prepares Leaders to Advocate for Equal Educational Options

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 02 July 2013.

Program for Educational Access Helps Drive Pursuit of More States' Reforms

From June 14 to19, ACE’s Program for Educational Access (PEA) hosted its fifth annual Parental Choice Symposium (PCS), a six-day series of workshops on the moral, legal, legislative, and policy aspects of voucher and scholarship tax credit programs. This conference brought together 26 participants from 15 states, including school presidents, teachers, executive directors of private scholarship funds, doctoral students, parent advocates, and other emerging education reform leaders.

Participants convened in Milwaukee, home of the nation’s first publicly funded private school choice program. Some of the preeminent advocates for parental choice—individuals who have dedicated much of their professional lives to improving educational opportunities for low income families—described the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP).

Two of the presenters were Dr. Howard Fuller, the architect of the MPCP, and Joe Williams, the executive director of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), an organization that educates elected officials and supports reform-minded candidates for public office. Fuller, who previously served as the superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, is the chair and co-founder of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), in addition to serving as director of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning (ITL) at Marquette University. Williams formerly served as a non-resident senior fellow at Education Sector, a Washington-based think tank, and worked as an education journalist for the New York Daily News and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He is author of Cheating our Kids: How Politics and Greed Ruin Education.

Jason Crye, the executive director of Hispanics for School Choice and a member of this year’s PCS cohort, described the Milwaukee sessions this way:

“The Milwaukee portion of the ACE Parental Choice Symposium afforded me the opportunity to learn about the development of the nation's largest and oldest parental choice program from the people who have been involved from the very beginning. It was also beneficial to hear my fellow participants' reactions to the parental choice story in Wisconsin; their diverse backgrounds helped me to consider parental choice in new and interesting ways. The engaging presentations and deep conversations reinvigorated my desire to work for education reform, and I am confident that the relationships formed during the symposium will be a resource for years to come.”

On June 16, the group traveled to Tampa, Florida, where participants had the opportunity to engage an equally outstanding line-up of presenters, including Dr. Tony Bennett, Florida’s Commissioner of Education and a founding member and current chair of Chiefs for Change. He delivered a keynote address on designing, enacting, and implementing a school choice program. Prior to assuming his new role, Bennett served as Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction and oversaw the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program, the nation's most expansive school voucher program.

The group also had the opportunity to work closely with the leadership team from Step Up For Students, the nation’s largest scholarship granting organization. Step Up chairman John Kirtley opened the Tampa sessions with a reflection on the questions and themes that have inspired the growth of Step Up since its inception. After establishing a foundation to give Florida families scholarships to private schools in 1998, Kirtley petitioned, and ultimately persuaded, the state legislature to create a statewide tax credit scholarship program three years later. Because of Kirtley’s foresight and dedication, Step Up For Students now provides tax credit scholarships to nearly 60,000 low-income students.

Elizabeth Toomey, director of communications at the Children’s Scholarship Fund, the only national K-8 scholarship organization in the country, spoke of the benefits of the Symposium and how informative the Step Up model is for her work. “Hearing from a top-notch group of leaders in the parental choice movement and getting to know the other PCS participants over six days and two cities was invaluable,” she said. “Working for a scholarship organization, I found the presentations by the Step Up for Students team in Tampa especially instructive, and it was impressive to learn about Step Up’s evolution from a small private program to a statewide tax credit scholarship program.”

The 2014 Parental Choice Symposium is tentatively scheduled for June 13-18. Applications will become available in October. For additional information, please contact Matt Gelchion (; 574-631-2549).

Summer Conferences Promote Excellence, Hope for Catholic Schools

Written by William Schmitt on Friday, 26 April 2013.

Educational Leaders Invited to Campus for Focused Conversations, Insights

Hundreds of educators and school leaders eager to enhance the future of Catholic schools will attend a unique collection of summertime conferences hosted annually by the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE).

The June and July conferences, some of which are currently accepting registrants, are part of ACE’s mission to sustain, strengthen, and transform Catholic schools. They are a growing component of the busy summers when ACE conducts the majority of its on-campus academic programming and graduate-level classes with the hope of inspiring the next generation of Catholic school teachers and leaders.

Preparation of outstanding college graduates to teach in Catholic schools is the organization’s best-known activity, now welcoming its 20th cohort of aspiring educators as ACE prepares a major celebration of the nation’s Catholic schools to mark its 20th anniversary.

The conferences are hosted by various ACE units that have grown in recent years to respond to particular issues and needs. Those interested in attending or learning more can visit these conferences’ respective web pages:

ACE Teaching Fellows Annual Conference (June 11-14). Participants in the Melody Family ACE Teaching Fellowship program convene to assess and catalyze their growth as master teachers, educational leaders, and generators of problem-solving research. Several benefactor-supported fellowships support highly promising educators who wish to continue their careers in Catholic classrooms while pursuing advanced knowledge and skills. Fellows cultivate these leadership assets along with their mentors during the conference.

Advocates for Parental Choice Symposium (June 14-19). This intensive formation experience gives participants a first-hand experience of people and places on the cutting edge in implementing school choice policies. Catholic school supporters will receive skills, insights, and working relationships to equip them as advocates in the parental choice movement. Major speakers on- and off-campus will increase these future leaders’ understanding of the social, legal, political, pedagogical, and moral dimensions of parental choice.

Play Like a Champion Today ® Sports Leadership Conference (June 21-23). This annual conference, titled “Character Education through Sports Leadership” for 2013, emphasizes developing the whole person through sports. Guest speakers offer professional development for coaches and athletic administrators at both the youth and high school levels. Hosted by ACE’s Play Like a Champion Today ® experts in sports as ministry, the conference gathers representatives of parochial leagues around the country to network and share best practices. Register for the Sports Leadership Conference.

Equitable Services Institute (June 23-28). Students in Catholic schools across the country are not getting federally funded services to which they’re entitled; this institute assists diocesan superintendents, principals, and other educational leaders to address this problem. Attendees will receive updated information about complex federal funding policies plus practical roadmaps for the process of consultations by which educators obtain equitable shares for their students from Title 1, Title 2, and Title 3 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Information and registration are available online.

Principals Academy (June 24-28). A four-day enrichment experience for Catholic school principals, entitled “Fueling the Fire of Leadership in Catholic Schools” for 2013, will engage expert faculty and practitioners as they develop an action plan to increase motivational practices for instruction, enrollment, and school identity. Principals will explore tangible, evidence-based strategies to increase teacher motivation and self-efficacy, improve supervision processes, and encourage teacher self-evaluation to improve the professional learning environment of schools. Register for this academy hosted by ACE Consulting.

Latino Enrollment Institute (June 25-28). The Catholic School Advantage campaign will invite principals from around the country to discuss strategic possibilities and pursue practical strategies to increase enrollment, particularly among Latino children, in Catholic schools.

Superintendents Strategic Leadership Conference (July 9-12). ACE Consulting will host its annual conference for diocesan schools superintendents, providing expert speakers and facilitating in-depth conversations to explore key issues faced by the invited school leaders.

School Pastors Institute (July 9-12). Pastors whose parishes include schools are invited to this annual institute to learn to manage and leverage better the distinctive relationship between a parish and its school. The Institute develops many skills and perspectives that a pastor will need in overseeing a parish school,its people, and its finances. Insights presented will support pastors’ reflections on the value of Catholic schools to parishioners and to the Church’s future.

Mary Ann Remick Leadership Conference (July 12). This conference, a capstone event for those earning their master’s degrees in educational administration through the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, is a unique and informal venue for South Bend-area educators to discuss current research with ACE leaders and experts from across the country. The graduate students preparing to serve as principals present the action research they have conducted, and local visitors attending free-of-charge exchange ideas on school challenges and solutions.

ACE Summer Forum (July 12-14). The ACE Summer Forum is a professional development opportunity for Catholic school supporters and ACE graduates, focusing on urgent needs in Catholic schools and how aadvocates can address them. This summer, Forum participants will discuss raising local awareness for Catholic schools and connecting local initiatives to the broader ACE movement.

ACE 19 Parent Retreat (July 24-26). Parents whose sons or daughters have just finished their first year in ACE Teaching Fellows often have many questions about these first-year teachers’ experiences. ACE Advocates hosts a special retreat for these parents at Notre Dame to get their questions answered and to see the broader context of the journey their ACE teachers are taking. The retreat also allows these parents of the ACE 19 cohort to hear presentations, worship together, and swap stories.

Catholic School Experts Exploring Voucher Laws, Enrollment Gains

Written by William Schmitt on Thursday, 04 April 2013.

Insights are tapped by Media Covering a Range of Hopeful News

Upticks in enrollment and a legal affirmation of Indiana’s school-vouchers law have been among the good news for Catholic schools reported recently in the media. Journalists turned to a variety of Notre Dame faculty and staff for expertise on aspects of these stories.

John Schoenig, director of ACE’s Program for K-12 Educational Access and an experienced analyst of parental choice policies around the country, offered insights on Indiana’s school vouchers law. The legislative debate about amending the vouchers policy had prompted a National Public Radio reporter to interview Schoenig in February. The decision by the Indiana Supreme Court in March declaring vouchers to be constitutional led the National Catholic Register to quote Schoenig’s assessment of the ruling.

See a new "ND Expert" story outlining his thoughts on possible school-voucher implications in other states.

The latest issue of Chicago’s archdiocesan newspaper Catholic New World reports that “efforts to persuade Latino parents to send their children to Catholic schools appear to be paying off.” A key source helping to tell that story is Juana Sanchez Graber, a field consultant leading ACE’s “Catholic School Advantage” campaign in the archdiocese.

In covering a new initiative for Catholic educator engagement in the Diocese of Santa Rosa, the latest issue of National Catholic Register quotes Rev. Ronald Nuzzi, senior director of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program. Father Nuzzi affirmed the kudos going to Bishop Robert Vasa’s planned educator-renewal program, which will spotlight key teachings of the Church: “This work of faith formation, the evangelization and re-evangelization of adults, is never done.”

Separately, Father Nuzzi's reflection on Pope Emeritus Benedict's strong support for Catholic education was presented in the popular blog Catholicmom.com.

A story in an online newsletter covering education reform, RedefinED. has reported that Catholic school enrollment in Florida increased last year. The newsletter, which has interviewed Notre Dame ACE Academies director Christian Dallavis in the past, noted a partnership with ACE Academies as one of the constructive steps taken by the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

NCEA Convention Hosted a Range of ACE Speakers and Insights

Written by William Schmitt on Wednesday, 27 March 2013.

Leadership, Catholic Identity Among Topics for Educators at Houston Event

Members of the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) family and friends were among the Catholic school experts making presentations at the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) Annual Convention and Expo April 2-4 in Houston, Texas.

The convention, a premier event convening Catholic school educators from around the country, offers presentations on a wide variety of topics, and the speakers from ACE addressed subjects relevant to schools’ roles in the New Evangelization. The subjects ranged from the spirituality of Catholic school leadership to virtue in high school sports, from improving school finances to increasing Latino enrollments.

A full schedule of presentations is available online from the NCEA. Those with particular ties to ACE included:

Erika Banwarth Cedrone, a partner in ACE’s Catholic School Advantage campaign, who spoke on “Increasing Latino Enrollment in our Catholic Schools.”

Frank DiLallo, M. Ed., LPC, an author published by ACE Press, spoke on “A Catholic Educator Response to Bullying.”

Jim Frabutt, Ph.D., faculty member in ACE’s Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, was a co-presenter, with Rachel Waldron, MA (a graduate of ACE’s Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program), on the topic, “Educating the Youngest Hearts and Minds: The Landscape of Catholic Preschool Education.”

Erik Goldschmidt, Ph.D., a graduate of ACE’s third cohort of teachers, addressed the issue of “Enhancing Faculty Faith Formation with Online Resources.”

Juana Sanchez Graber, a field consultant with ACE's Catholic School Advantage campaign, spoke on "Developing a Parent Ambassador Program" with Jean Simpson.

Mary C. McDonald, Ed. D., an author published by ACE Press, made two presentations, one titled “A Light Reflected,” and the other titled “Fishing on the Other Side of the Boat.”

Rev. Ronald Nuzzi, Ph.D., ACE’s senior director of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, made a presentation titled “Towards a Spirituality of Leadership: A Catholic and International Perspective.” He was also a co-presenter in two other sessions—“Towards a Bright Future: Current Research on Catholic Schools” and “Catholic Section of the Praeger Handbook of Faith-Based Schools in the United States, K-12.”

Clark Power, Ph.D., director of ACE’s Play Like a Champion Today ® training and research program for character education through sports, spoke on “Developing Virtue Through Sport: A Catholic Mission for High Schools.”

Jim Rigg, Ph.D., superintendent for Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and a graduate of ACE’s sixth cohort of teachers, spoke on “Blessings and Bucks: Making Sense of School Financial Vitality.”

Anne Stricherz, M.A.T., a graduate of ACE’s third cohort of teachers, spoke on “Sports and Spirituality: Fertile Ground for the New Evangelization.”

David Tompkins, M.A., faculty member in ACE’s English as a New Language certificate program and a seasoned ENL teacher, presented “Teaching the Immigrant Church: Ten Strategies to Support Linguistically Diverse Children and Promote a More Culturally Inclusive School.”

Steven Virgadamo, associate director of ACE Consulting with over 25 years of experience in managing and leading Catholic institutions, spoke on “Applied Behavioral Sciences in the Art of Face-to-Face Cultivation and Solicitation of Donors.”

A complete description of the Annual Convention and its activities can be found at the NCEA website.


ACE Contributes Insights to Stories on Meeting Catholic Schools' Needs

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 11 March 2013.

Experts Quoted in Interviews as Major Media Explore Faith and Hope for Students

                Media have turned their attention to the Alliance for Catholic Education recently in writing and referencing stories and commentaries that reflect hope for Catholic schools.

                The Catholic School Advantage campaign, in which ACE is partnering with dioceses to help increase Latino enrollments, was featured Feb. 28, 2013, not only in the Washington Post “On Faith” section, but at Religion News Service online, as well..

                John Schoenig, director of ACE’s Program for K-12 Educational Access, was quoted in a “State Impact” story aired on National Public Radio stations in Indiana, as he helped a reporter explore implications of Indiana school voucher policies.

                Rev. Ronald Nuzzi, senior director of ACE’s Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, wrote a reflection in late February on Pope Benedict’s support for U.S. Catholic schools. That reflection was linked by the Catholic School Chronicle blog, Sam Rocha’s Patheos Catholic blog, and National Catholic Reporter’s morning briefing.


Expansion of Indiana's School Vouchers Could Spur Further Catholic School Growth

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 04 March 2013.

Proposal May Lead to New Charter & Private Schools, Says ACE Professor

Will the proposed changes to Indiana’s voucher program prompt the expansion of educational options for at-risk children? Given the gap between the per-pupil funding provided to Indiana charter schools and the maximum scholarship amount available to K-8 children through the private school voucher, it may be difficult to encourage growth in the private school sector, according to John Schoenig, director of the Program for K-12 Educational Access at the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE). Schoenig, who analyzes the effects of school choice laws around the country, pointed out that the proposed increase in the K-8 voucher amount could provide incentives for both charter school and private school growth.

Schoenig was interviewed in a story aired Feb. 28 on National Public Radio stations in Indiana as part of the StateImpact/NPR initiative. The story pointed out that the vouchers have helped fill 9,100 open seats in private schools, but it is unclear whether the vouchers would generate so much student demand that new schools would have to be built. Estimates indicated that private schools in the state had 20,000-24,000 seats waiting to be filled as of 2010. Legislators in the Indiana House have voted to increase the value of vouchers for K-8 students. The legislation awaits review by the Indiana Senate.

Catholic School Students in the News: Video from "Today"

Written by William Schmitt on Thursday, 14 February 2013.

Kids from St. Anthony School, Washington, D.C., Hosted by Speaker Boehner

Rep. John Boehner, Speaker of the House, invited two students of St. Anthony Catholic School in Washington, D.C., to be among his guests in the Speaker's Box at this week's State of the Union Address. The students, Lacy Joseph and Zuri Franklin, were interviewed for NBC's "Today" Show, and Boehner was interviewed by anchor Matt Lauer as well.

The principal of St. Anthony School is Michael Thomasian, a graduate of ACE's Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program. He is pictured in the middle of the accompanying photo.

Boehner, a strong supporter of Catholic schools, led the fight to reinstitute the Opportunity Scholarships program, a parental choice program in Washington, D.C., that allows public school students to receive financial support for attending private schools like St. Anthony to pursue greater educational opportunities.

The Speaker told Lauer that he hopes the message to fourth-graders Lacy and Zuri this week is that they can grow up to experience the American Dream. He has made it a tradition to invite students of inner-city schools as State of the Union guests.

Holy Cross, ACE Mark Milestones in Efforts to Rebuild Haiti Education System

Written by Drew Clary on Friday, 01 February 2013.

Group from Notre Dame Joins in Celebrating Catholic School Dedication

Almost three years to the day after hundreds of thousands were killed in the January, 2010, earthquake in Port-au-Prince, a group of more than 25 visited Haiti to survey progress made on some exciting new educational endeavors for Haiti's Catholic school system.

The group included Rev. Richard Warner, C.S.C., Superior General of the Congregation of Holy Cross, and Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., director of Notre Dame's Institute for Educational Initiatives and co-founder of the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), along with other leaders from ACE and colleagues in development activities in Haiti. ACE has been the locus of the University of Notre Dame's educationally-focused relief efforts. Over the last three years, ACE has developed significant partnerships with various Haitian, American, and international institutions.

These partnerships have now borne fruit in the form of a teacher training institute, the Institute Superior Marcel Bedard (ISMB), which opened its doors in Cap Haitien this fall to 30 secondary school teachers who work in three different Holy Cross schools in the northern part of the country. On Thursday, January 17th, the group of ACE staff and Holy Cross leaders who have developed the institute celebrated the inauguration of this exciting new institution. Its founding has brought international best practices in teacher education to Haiti, where 70% of teachers lack appropriate training. The program aspires to serve as a national model for the certification of high school teachers and grow into a center of excellence and innovation for the country.

Upon returning to Port-au-Prince on Friday, January 18th, the group participated in a roundtable discussion that included numerous in-country and international partners to discuss the dual challenges of access to and quality of Haitian education. Partners around the table included representatives from USAID, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, Catholic Relief Services, the Episcopal Commission for Catholic Education, and the Haitian Foundation for Private Education. The lively discussion, ably moderated by TJ D'Agostino, who has coordinated ACE's efforts in Haiti for three years, focused on challenges and strategies for continuing to improve Haiti's education system.

The discussion highlighted the impressive accomplishments and leadership of the Catholic Church in Haiti in seeking to rebuild and renew Haitian education. In partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the University of Notre Dame, the Catholic school system recently completed a national study and strategic plan for Catholic education. Reaching 98% of Catholic schools, the study leveraged technology in innovative ways, collecting data, photos and GPS coordinates on iPod Touch devices. This has allowed Haitian Catholic educational leaders and their partners to develop a data-rich, interactive map of the school system to aid in effective planning and administration. Catholic educational leaders and CRS have been asked to train the Ministry of Education to allow a replication and scaling of these methods throughout the Haitian system. The roundtable emphasized the potential of the Church to serve as a catalyst for development and progress in Haiti.

Finally, on Saturday, January 19th, the group celebrated the dedication of Basile Moreau School, a school in a poor area of Port-au-Prince. Before the earthquake, the school stood as a symbol of what was possible even in the midst of crushing poverty. The primary school building required significant renovations in the aftermath of the earthquake, and the high school building was totally demolished. The renovations are complete on the primary school building, and the high school students are scheduled to move out of the tents where they have held class since the earthquake into their brand new, state-of-the-art school facility in the next two months.

The Bishop of Hinche, Msgr. Simon Saint-Hillien, csc, who founded Basile Moreau School in the late 1980s, presided at the Mass. Father Richard Warner, csc, the Superior General of the Congregation of Holy Cross dedicated and blessed the buildings. The bilingual homily was given by Father Tim Scully, csc, the Director of Notre Dame's Institute for Educational Initiatives (IEI), and Father Michel Eugène, csc, the Provincial Superior for Holy Cross's Province of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Haiti). The students, parents, and teachers of the school community led an exuberant celebration full of song and lively testimonials from students and Holy Cross alike. It was a powerful sign of new life and hope amid the many challenges that remain in the wake of the earthquake.

Although there is much progress yet to be made in Haiti, the strong partnership between the Congregation of Holy Cross, the University of Notre Dame, and the Alliance for Catholic Education has made concrete and meaningful advancements. The powerful national partnership between Notre Dame, Catholic Relief Services and the Haitian Catholic Church is bringing national scale and impact, helping to make Catholic schools a model of innovation and catalyst for renewal throughout the Haitian educational system. These partners will remain committed to the life-saving work of Haitian Catholic education and to the children and families these schools will servefor generations to come.

Photo: At the celebration of the dedication event for the Basile Moreau School, standing on the platform (l to r) are Rev. Richard Warner, C.S.C.; the student body president from the school; and Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C.

ACE Consulting in the News: A Partnership in Milwaukee

Written by William Schmitt on Thursday, 24 January 2013.

Team Will Assess Schools' Catholic Identity, Academics, Governance, Finances

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee this week announced a partnership with ACE Consulting to review 26 of the city's urban Catholic schools, as reported in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The article reported that Kathleen Cepelka, superintendent of archdiocesan schools, believes the endeavor will help provide more high-quality Catholic education to more students.

ACE in the News: "US Catholic" on Hope for Schools' Financial Future

Written by William Schmitt on Friday, 18 January 2013.

Corpora, Schoenig See Bold Steps to Transform and Sustain Catholic Schools

Leaders in the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) outlined crucial steps to strengthen under-resourced Catholic schools when US Catholic magazine interviewed them for a just-published article, "Investing in Futures: New Ways of Paying for Catholic Education."

Rev. Joseph Corpora, C.S.C., director of university-school partnerships for ACE and an education consultant for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, highlighted "five keys to turning around the decline in Catholic schools," as reported by Kristen Hannum in the magazine's February 2013 edition. One of those keys is the growing trend of stewardship in the form of large-scale endowment support.

John Schoenig, director of ACE's Program for K-12 Educational Access, expanded on the theme, stressing that at-risk schools often need to implement broad, sustainable changes. "This is the hour that laypeople with vision can effect a systemic transformation in our schools," he said.

The article also quotes the perspectives of these ACE graduates: Elizabeth Brands; Joe Womac, executive director of the Fulcrum Foundation in Seattle; and Erik Goldschmidt, director of the Church in the 21st Century Center at Boston College.

The Alliance for Catholic Education's Top Ten Most-Visited Stories of 2012

on Friday, 28 December 2012.

Whether through new initiatives or existing traditions, the movement of the Alliance for Catholic Education continued its mission to sustain, strengthen and transform Catholic schools in 2012.

As we move closer to our 20th year of service to Catholic education, we've sifted through all the exciting news stories of this past year to put together this list of the ten most-visited ACE stories:

1. ND Launches New Partnership Program in St. Petersburg, FL, Area

The University of Notre Dame partnered with two Catholic schools in the Diocese of St. Petersburg to form the second site of Notre Dame ACE Academies.

2. Michael Pressley Awards Go to Three Outstanding Educators

Three outstanding educators committed to sustain, strengthen, and transform Catholic schools received the 2012 Michael Pressley Awards from the Alliance for Catholic Education's ACE Advocates for Catholic Schools.

3. An Array of ACE Programs and People Energize Summer at ND

The summer break at the University of Notre Dame surged with energy as the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) began its peak season.


4. Dan Faas Delivered STT Student Commencement Address

ACE 17 Student Commencement Address given in the Monogram Room, Edmund P. Joyce Center
at the University of Notre Dame on July 13, 2012.

5. Your Future in ACE: Consider the Possibilities

This blessed time of year prompted us to look back upon cherished Christmas traditions and to look forward to a new year—often considering plans for the future that reflect our deepest values.


Program for K-12 Educational Access in the News: Parental Choice Update on Nationwide Catholic Radio

Written by William Schmitt on Friday, 07 December 2012.

Interview with John Schoenig Highlights Progress, Challenges for School Choice

John Schoenig, director of the Program for K-12 Educational Access at Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education, talked to a nationwide radio audience about progress and challenges in the spread of school choice policies around the nation. He was interviewed by host Brian Patrick on the Son Rise Morning Show on Dec. 5, 2012, heard on more than 180 stations in the EWTN Global Radio Network and also heard on SiriusXM Radio and the iHeartRadio mobile app.

Schoenig pointed to increasing bipartisan support for parental choice, or school choice—the idea that all families, including the disadvantaged, should be able to choose schools they believe will give their children the best education. But the enactment of parental choice policies in various states never happens without a tough political battle. Schoenig also commented that Catholic schools, which offer an advantage over local public schools for many disadvantaged children, need to approach with prudence the implementation of policies and practices that arise when a state or local government enacts parental choice. (Run time of interview: approximately 7 minutes)

Catholic Education Report Explores Leadership, Innovation & Faith

Written by William Schmitt on Wednesday, 28 November 2012.

Success Stories Celebrating Children and Education Fill 2011-2012 Annual Report

Good news about the present and future of Catholic schools fills the pages of the 2011-2012 Annual Report from the Alliance for Catholic Education. That report, released today, is available online—the first fully digital version of an ACE annual report.

This fresh collection of compelling stories about ACE's activities explores successes in leadership formation, professional services, research-based innovation, and partnerships around the United States.

Faculty and staff have shared expertise in school governance, strategic planning, Latino enrollments, and parental choice, among other issue areas. Nearly 80 bishops have engaged in ACE-sponsored conferences on advocating for parental choice policies.

The report also offers highlights of the 2011-2012 academic year for numerous initiatives through which the Alliance for Catholic Education responds to the needs of dioceses—and to the call to serve children by sustaining, strengthening, and transforming Catholic schools.

During the year, ACE offered services in 74 archdioceses and dioceses. ACE teachers and principals impacted the lives of 38,000 students.

Supporters of Catholic schools will find a valuable resource in this update on ACE's growing list of activities. Paper copies of the 2011-2012 Annual Report are available by contacting communications specialist Bill Schmitt.

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