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Catholic Education Journal Focuses on ACE Leadership in Action Research

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 12 March 2012.

Remick Leadership Program Faculty and Students Spotlight Problem-Solving

An article by Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) faculty members in the latest issue of Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice makes the case for "action research" as crucial to formation in ACE's Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program and "at the center of a vocation in Catholic education."

The online journal's March 2012 edition, just posted this week, also includes three examples of action research completed by participants in the Remick Leadership Program (RLP) curriculum. They reflect the value of Catholic school leaders who are prepared to solve problems through insights from both sound data and the school's mission.

This exploration of action research in the journal's current issue is summed up by the article, "Mission Driven and Data Informed Leadership," written by Anthony Holter, Ph.D., and Jim Frabutt, Ph.D., who are members of the RLP faculty. They present three problem-solving research products generated through the RLP program—one on attracting Latino families to Catholic schools, one on addressing children's literacy needs in grades 4 through 8, and one on building a Catholic school's sense of community.

ND and AT&T Team Up to Expand Educational Opportunities in Tucson

Written by William Schmitt on Thursday, 08 March 2012.

AT&T Contributes $800,000 in Scholarships for At-Risk Children

AT&T and the University of Notre Dame have teamed up to dramatically expand educational opportunities available to at-risk children in Tucson. By making an $800,000 contribution through Arizona's corporate tax credit scholarship program, AT&T has created hundreds of scholarships for children to attend the two Notre Dame ACE Academies on the south side of Tucson: St. John the Evangelist and Santa Cruz.

Jerry Fuentes, President of AT&T Arizona/New Mexico, announced the partnership with Notre Dame on Friday, March 2 at an event at St. John the Evangelist School in Tucson. Fuentes was joined by Notre Dame ACE Academies director Christian Dallavis, president of the Arizona School Choice Trust Elizabeth Dreckman, and Arizona state senator Olivia Cajero-Bedford, as well as 200 children, teachers, parents, and school leaders from the two Notre Dame ACE Academies in Tucson, including Priscilla Bussari, the mother of scholarship recipients at St. John and a member of the ND ACE Academies Tucson School Board.

ndaa-att-check-2"AT&T is committed to driving innovation in education by investing locally, connecting people and seeking exponential change. By strengthening educational opportunities for the children of Tucson, we're investing in the future of our community, our state, and our nation," Fuentes said. "Programs like these seek to increase high school graduation rates which is a key indicator for success."

Catholic School Champion: Sister Mary Willette, SSND

on Wednesday, 07 March 2012.

SrWilletteWithChildren SmallSister Mary Willette is an expert at creating a welcoming school environment for Latino families. She did that--with great success--for nearly a decade as principal of the former San Miguel Middle School in Minneapolis.

Well before becoming principal, the School Sister of Notre Dame believed strongly in responding to urgent needs. But the belief took on a particular shape while she was studying to become a licensed administrator. "After I finished my studies," Sr. Mary says, "I had a deep desire to be in ministry with economically challenged families and students who struggle academically."

The desire led her to San Miguel, where her focus became the school's many Latino immigrant families. There she saw that "serving the immigrant population is one of those [urgent] needs," she says.

Sr. Mary developed many strategies for welcoming and enfolding Latino families into the school. Among them, she actively involved parents and guardians in their child/ren's education, offering conferences four times a year (with nearly 100% participation!) and meetings on topics pertinent to raising middle school children. Sr. Mary also trained her teachers in culturally responsive techniques and strategies for teaching second language learners.

Along the way, she learned many important lessons: "Integrate Latino values and history into the curriculum and the school environment rather than just celebrating specific events," she says. "Educate benefactors, volunteers, families and students, teachers and staff regarding the value of including Latinos in the school; encourage them to get involved with comprehensive immigration reform."

Such strategies and lessons worked well for the students at San Miguel, closing the achievement gap and sending them well-prepared to high school. Though the school shut its doors in June 2011 due to insufficient funds, its influence—and that of Sr. Mary—lives on. According to a farewell letter from the school's leaders:

"Our alumni provide the most tangible evidence of the fulfillment of our mission. Over 92% of students who graduated in the past four years from San Miguel are still in high school and progressing toward graduation. Many graduates are the first in their families to complete high school in the United States. San Miguel students and graduates represent a vital bridge, connecting their families to the realization of the American dream."

We congratulate Sr. Mary Willette for the integral role she has played in the lives of her students. And we pray God's richest blessings on her in her new role as coordinator of the School Sisters of Notre Dame Generalate House and Local Community in Rome, Italy.

Parental Choice Symposium Will Prepare Leaders as Opportunities Grow in States

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 06 March 2012.

Applications Invited for a Summertime Immersion in School Choice Insights

Now that 2011 has been dubbed "the year of school choice" because the number of private school choice programs in the United States jumped significantly, 2012 may be your time to prepare for the debates, challenges, and opportunities as school choice (or parental choice) policies gain even more momentum.

The Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) will host its annual Parental Choice Symposium, the premier seminar for future leaders in the parental choice movement, on June 15-20. A dynamic agenda will include visits to Wisconsin and Florida—states with two of the most expansive choice programs in the country—for the 15-20 individuals selected to participate. The participants' tuition, travel, and other costs will be covered by a full scholarship, so interested parties are urged to file their applications soon.

"School choice is happening across the United States, and it is time to form your opinions on the issues surrounding this important topic," says Anna M. Jacob, an ACE Teaching Fellows graduate who attended last year's symposium and is now pursuing her Ph.D. in education policy at the University of Arkansas.

Catholic Education Champion: John Kakande

on Thursday, 01 March 2012.

John Kakande is one of ACE's most far-flung ambassadors, a young father and youth minister leading the efforts of Play Like A Champion Today® in Kkindu, Uganda, East Africa. In this remote village outside the city of Masaka, John works to advance a vision of sports as ministry that helps young people grow physically, emotionally, morally and spiritually. In Kkindu, you'll find a Play Like A Champion Today® sign (mimicking the very sign inside the Notre Dame football team's locker room) proudly rising in front a newly cleared sport field, called "Our Lady's Field." And you'll see children embracing the value of sport as a joyful release in life, and as a means of becoming stronger spiritually as well as physically.

John Kakande reports, "The community of Kkindu is one of the areas in Uganda which is highly affected by the AIDS pandemic, leaving the community with a lot of negative attitude towards their own life. With help from the Play Like A Champion ministry, we have used the sports platform to bring back hope in people who had lost it due to this HIV/AIDS pandemic. We use the various sports events that we hold in the community to pass on information about the HIV/AIDS prevention among the youth."

Among the Play Like a Champion activities Kakande oversees are soccer competitions, bicycle races, sack races among the young children, and net ball competitions among the girls. Children both Catholic and non-Catholic participate in these games. John Kakande continues, "These sports enable us to impart our Catholic religious values, [which] enables the youth to regain a sense of discipline, cooperation, respect and love for each other.

I am very pleased to extend our sincere gratitude towards Play Like A Champion Today ministry at the University of Notre Dame USA. Thanks to everyone for the great support and encouragement towards the youth sports ministry in Uganda."

The Play Like A Champion Today® educational ministry began in Uganda in 2009 and will expand this May when the Play Like a Champion team travels back to the country along with Notre Dame students who have taken the undergraduate classes associated with sports as a ministerial outreach and tool for whole human development. Together with Kevin Dugan, director of community outreach with the ND athletic department, the Play Like a Champion team will spread the "champion" philosophy across villages and schools throughout Uganda. The team will also work in conjunction with Uganda Martyrs University in beginning research on the effects of sport on children in a developing country.

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