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From the Field: Caitlin Wrend

on Wednesday, 21 December 2011.

As a product of Catholic schools, Caitlin Wrend (3rd from right, above) was drawn to the mission of ACE when she applied to the ACE Teaching Fellows (STT) program. "I wanted to work to make the gift of a Catholic education a reality for all children," she says, and become "part of this group that is wholeheartedly dedicated to the mission of strengthening Catholic schools."

Now in Tucson at San Xavier Mission School, Caitlin has one semester of 3rd grade teaching under her belt. Already she is aware of how the ACE mission applies in areas large and small. "This experience has opened my eyes to the many challenges our education system is facing today," she tells us. At the same time, it has narrowed her focus to the children. "It really is all about the kids," Caitlin says.

The "17 smiling faces" that greet her every morning remind her of the beacon of hope a Catholic school can be. And no matter the teaching hurdles she may cross on a given day, it's the students' "little ah-ha moments that make it all worthwhile!"

Some may wonder how soon young STT teachers know they're making a difference, especially because the job can be, as Caitlin says, "daunting and overwhelming." But Caitlin tells of a day in October when she saw that her instruction was taking hold. "My mom came to visit my classroom, and while she was reading with one of my students, my mom misunderstood something that had happened on the previous page. My student looked up at her and patiently said, 'Mrs. Wrend, you need to back up and re-read.' I realized that my students really are learning and using the strategies I am teaching them."

Click here to learn more about this program that brings hopes to schools, students, and teachers alike.

Grace in the Family Tree

on Wednesday, 21 December 2011.

jesus genealogyPut to music, the genealogy of Jesus, as it's found in Matthew's Gospel, takes about 2 minutes to sing. The list--3 sets of 14 generations each--includes the names of thieves (Jacob, who stole his brother's birthright) and murderers (David, who stole Uriah's wife and then had him killed), foreigners (Rahab and Ruth), and even a prostitute (Rahab again). In his book on Advent, Father Raymond Brown suggests why: Matthew's genealogy reflects the essential theology of Christianity: salvation by grace.

Of this, Gail Godwin writes, "Matthew's genealogy is showing us how the story of Jesus Christ contained--and would continue to contain--the flawed and inflicted and insulted, the cunning and the weak-willed and the misunderstood. His is an equal opportunity ministry for crooks and saints..."

"And this, of course," Godwin continues, "is where the message settles directly upon us...Isn't this a pretty hopeful testament to the likelihood that God is using us, with our individual flaws and gifts, in all manner of peculiar and unexpected ways? Who of us can say we're not in the process of being used right now, to fulfill some purpose whose grace and goodness would boggle our imagination if we could even begin to get our minds around it?" (Paraphrased from Watch for the LIght, p. 159.)

Listen to the song that brings this genealogy to life.

Your Future in ACE: Consider the Possibilities

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 19 December 2011.

This blessed time of year prompts 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. If these values include education, community, faith, and service to the Church and society, this is a good time to consider the life-transforming experiences of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE).

Applications are now being accepted for ACE’s ACE Teaching Fellows program, which helps to form Catholic school educators, ready to serve at-risk children in under-resourced K-12 schools. Those who already teach can apply for the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program (RLP), which prepares the next generation of Catholic school leaders, ready to serve as principals for dynamic communities educating the mind and the heart.

These formation initiatives grant a master’s degree from one of the nation’s leading universities and offer an unrivaled combination of professional preparation, community solidarity, and spiritual growth. On-campus coursework at Notre Dame is integrated with online learning and the everyday life of serving in a Catholic school—the matchless opportunity to build skills as an educator while sustaining and strengthening the precious treasure of a Catholic education that gives children faith, hope, and love.

Consider sharing this unique experience and joining this supportive community.

Explore the “journey of an ACE teacher” in the ACE Teaching Fellows program. Meet a recent STT cohort of students and see some of their experiences in a video presentation. The deadline to apply for ACE Teaching Fellows is Jan. 24, 2012.

See the brochure that describes the Remick Leadership Program. Watch an introduction to the program from the director. The deadline to apply for the Remick Leadership Program is Feb. 1, 2012.

From the Field: Greg Rustico

on Friday, 16 December 2011.

For Greg Rustico (pictured with his community, bottom-left), service was the draw to join ACE Teaching Fellows. "Jesus' message in the Gospel clearly commands us to think first of others," he says. "I felt that I could most effectively serve by being a teacher."

Now, after a semester on the job, he adds that teaching is unique as a type of service. "Teaching requires patience," he says. "The results aren't immediately apparent like other forms of service." Thus, Greg has to remind himself now and again that he is making a difference, whether or not he can see it.

His ACE community "of 8 awesome people" in Brownsville, Texas helps him in that regard. So, too, does the recognition that the impact of his service reaches beyond the middle school social studies and language arts he teaches. "I sense that many of my students, especially the boys, are starting to look up to me," he says. "I hope that I can be a strong role model for them."

Click here to learn more about the ACE Teaching Fellows program.

Latino Students and a Prize-Winning Principal Share Messages of Hospitality and Hope

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 12 December 2011.

Yvonne Schwab, who recently was named among this year's 61 National Distinguished Principals by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), says many people and many forces have come together to transform Saint James the Less School, the Catholic school she leads in Columbus, Ohio.

Progressing toward the October 2011 NAESP ceremony and an earlier competition in which the National Catholic Education Association honored her as a Distinguished Principal, Yvonne wrote various essays describing accomplishments at St. James the Less. One of those accomplishments has been a surge in Latino enrollment during the eight years of her leadership—from two students to 260 out of a current student population totaling 497.

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