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Conference for Haiti's Future Focuses on Bolstering Catholic Education System as Key

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 02 July 2012.

Leaders from the education, development, corporate, and church sectors came together at Notre Dame's campus on June 19-20 to consider bold plans to help build Haiti's future by investing in Catholic education, the largest cohesive network of educational services in Haiti.

Haiti's Catholic school system spans the impoverished nation with over 2,300 schools across 10 dioceses. Recognized for their superior quality, Catholic schools represent 15% of all Haitian schools and constitute "the most organized education system in the country," said Luke King, Haiti country representative for Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

Conference participants united behind the idea that Catholic education can play a leading role in revitalizing the educational system of Haiti. Rev. Timothy Scully, CSC, director of the Institute for Educational Initiatives at the University of Notre Dame expressed this conviction: "Catholic education is the most important vehicle for formation in the faith, formation of character, and formation of the intellect that is available to us in this country and abroad," he said. Fr. Scully also expressed Notre Dame's unwavering commitment to Catholic education in Haiti. Referring to the "talented Holy Cross community in Haiti," which runs about 20 schools in Haiti and is also the sponsoring religious order of Notre Dame, Fr. Scully said "we will be there as long as they will be there, which is forever."

In the Spotlight: Anton Taruc

on Tuesday, 19 June 2012.

Anton Taruc, ACE 18, answers questions about his background, his inspiration, and his commitment to Catholic education.

What is your background—degree and experience of education—and your current position with the Alliance for Catholic Education?

I was born in the Bay Area but grew up in Bacolod City, Philippines. I moved back to the Bay Area for college: Saint Mary's College of California. I also spent a semester studying abroad at Oxford University. During my undergraduate years, I was an aspirant to be a brother with the De La Salle Christian Brothers. As I discerned my calling to enter the religious life, I had many opportunities to engage in service—most of which involved education. I was able to spend 2 summers teaching and living in community with minors in conflict with the law back in the Philippines. This experience allowed me to see the power of an education that took into account the real life needs of students. While I ended up not becoming a brother, the formation I received as an aspirant—with its focus on faith, service, and community—gave me a strong foundation for what I would do next.

After college, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Northeastern Thailand. I worked closely with the Thai Ministry of Education to develop programs that would help teachers in local villages apply student centered instruction. After my 2 years of Peace Corps service, I stayed on for another 2 and a half teaching English, Math, and Science. I was also able to spend some time working closely with a Master Teacher from the International School of Bangkok. All of these experiences gave me a wonderful vision of what good teaching instruction looks like and I've been blessed to take them into my 5th grade classroom in Compton, California.

One of the most important lessons I received before ACE was that teaching is a craft that has no ceiling. I've been fortunate to have had so much time to think and reflect about my beliefs and attitudes towards the craft of teaching (as well as being exposed to excellent examples of quality teachers) and I'm enjoying the process of developing this craft through the work I do in Compton.

What inspired your interest in Catholic education?

My desire to work with Catholic Education stems from my experience with the La Sallian tradition and the words, "Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve." These words are my slogan for every new endeavor. ACE is providing me with the right kind of formation to be the teacher I envision myself to be: a teacher led by faith; a teacher motivated by a desire to be of service to others; and a teacher who draws strength and energy from community.

How has your experience in ACE shaped your vision of education?

In ACE, I have countless opportunities to reflect on the difference between a job and a ministry. Through ACE, I've learned that at the heart of teaching is a desire to answer a special call. This call is often challenging, sometimes painful and always meaningful. My daily prayer is that all educators realize how fortunate we are to be involved in a vocation that is much more akin to a ministry than it is to a job. This is perhaps best expressed through one of my favorite poems:

Some people have a job in the church.
Others invite themselves into a ministry.
What's the difference you ask?
If you are doing it just because no one else will, it's a job.
If you are doing it to serve the Lord, it's a ministry.
If you quit because someone criticized you, it's a job.
If you keep on serving, it's a ministry.
If you'll do it as long as it does not interfere with your other activities, it's a job.
If you are committed to staying even if it means letting go of other things, it's a ministry.
If you quit because no one thanked you or praised you, it's a job.
If you stick with it even though no one recognized your efforts, it's a ministry.
It's hard to get excited about a job.
It's almost impossible not to get excited about a ministry.
If your concern is success, it's a job.
If your concern is faithfulness and service, it's a ministry.
If God calls you to a ministry, don't treat it like a job!

"It's hard to get excited about a job/ It's almost impossible not to get excited about a ministry"—how wonderful it would be if every teacher carried this in his/her heart. ACE has taught me that it is possible to view teaching as a ministry. My vision is that through our actions and the training we receive from ACE, we ACE teachers can inspire other teachers (be they neophytes such as ourselves or experienced veterans) to view teaching as a ministry.

In the Spotlight: Susan Hendricks

on Tuesday, 19 June 2012.

When it comes to Catholic education, Susan Hendricks values history.

She values her own winding path to Catholic schools. One of seven children, she was raised in the Catholic faith. Her parents' modeling, she says, "influences me daily with my devotion to the Church and Catholic education." Because her father's Army career required multiple moves, however, only two of the eight schools she attended were Catholic. Later the young activist became a teacher and worked for several years in San Francisco's Mission District. Then she re-located to Maui and, she says, "Divine intervention guided me to a hidden jewel—Sacred Heart School of Lahaina—where I am honored to be principal."

The 150-yr-old school she now serves was founded by the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts and later run by the Sisters of St. Francis. And here Susan's appreciation for history truly shines: "Standing on the shoulders of these consecrated giants and all of the everyday heroes that have gone before us is a gift of grace. We accept the mantel of duty to continue the legacy of preparing ourselves and our school community for salvation."

Now a participant in the Remick Leadership Program, Susan is devoted, "heart and mind to Catholic education." In her studies with the program, she has learned about the Church's strong foundation of support for Catholic schools. And, she says, "I am driven to share this history with my school community."

"I have learned that we do nothing alone, and that the relationships built in community of like-minded souls is a conspiracy of love, truth and action. The academic rigor and spiritual support in the ACE program has lifted my vision of Catholic education to a higher level of personal gratitude and political/social acumen. I am proud to be an agent of change in the movement of improving Catholic education today."

To learn more about the Remick Leadership Program, click here.

ACE Joins in National STEM Education Dialogue

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 18 June 2012.

Notre Dame Forum Event Probes Science and Math Teaching

National experts and local practitioners in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teaching gathered at Notre Dame on June 12 to envision using those disciplines to create "a generation of optimistic problem-solvers."

Distinguished panels led an audience of about 160 educators in discussions focused on science and math, with a University vice president citing the importance of this dialogue as a capstone to the Notre Dame Forum series on "reimagining" K-12 schooling.

"It's essential that we reclaim STEM education for all of our students, whatever their interests and career aspirations may be," said Dr. Christine Maziar, who is also senior associate provost. She said the STEM disciplines can undergird United States leadership in innovation, provide tools for analyzing the world, and give students confidence in addressing today's challenges.

The most effective way to improve the nation's current teaching of science is "an investment in the professional capital of the educational system"—through attracting and retaining excellent teachers—said panelist Jonathan Osborne, Shiriam Family Professor of Science Education at Stanford University.

In the Spotlight: Rachel Hamilton

on Saturday, 16 June 2012.

RachelStoryJune2012This spring, Rachel Hamilton said yes. "Yes" to the ACE Teaching Fellows program, and "yes" to God.

The recent Notre Dame graduate just started her first summer as a teacher in ACE Teaching Fellows. And she speaks eloquently about how two weeks' experience in the program is already beginning to shape her.

"If there is one thing that stands out to is the idea of 'saying yes.' This is not simply because we hear the ACE faculty and staff repeatedly saying 'Thank you for saying yes to ACE.' It is more than that. It is about agency. It is about affirmation.

We are not thanked for 'accepting' a place in ACE, and I think that distinction is crucial. A simple acceptance is passive; saying yes is active. By saying yes we have committed to continue saying yes for the next two years: to our professors, to our supervisors, to the stresses of daily life, to our students, and to God. Saying yes means that we are actively choosing to give of ourselves over the next two years to serve the needs of our nation's children, and that this choice is a response to our calling manifested through our gifts, talents, and virtues."

I know the next two years will be filled with obstacles and moments of great stress. The ACE staff has been honest about that the entire time. Yet, hopefully, this continued affirmation of our own agency in choosing to serve and choosing to give and choosing to follow God's call will sustain us as we embark on our teaching journeys.

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