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In the Spotlight: Carl Loesch

on Friday, 12 October 2012.

Carl Loesch is one of seven children whose combined years in Catholic schools total more than 100. It's not hard to see how these schools have formed him. There's his deep commitment to the faith and to service. His strong academic training in math. Two Theology degrees from Notre Dame. And a career dedicated to Catholic education.

"I just wanted to give back," he says when explaining his decision to become a Catholic school teacher. And so he has. For nine years he taught and coached in Fort Wayne and then, at the invitation of Bishop D'Arcy, pursued a position in administration through the ACE Teaching Fellows and Remick Leadership programs. Today he serves as the highly respected principal of Marian High School in South Bend.

Of his experience in ACE, Carl points out that both programs prepared him not only academically, but spiritually and socially, too. "The emphasis on forming us as Catholic educators is exactly what we need to be prepared to educate and care for the precious souls entrusted to us. The emphasis on prayer and the sacraments as necessary for our ministry help sustain me in my daily work. Finally, the emphasis on community taught me to share my gifts with others and to be open to learning from others."

Carl Loesch is still giving back to the Catholic schools he loves, and it's clear the schools are still forming him, too. He recently shared this story about what he learned from a courageous transfer student with autism and the student body that accepted him: "On his first day at Marian, the student walked very nervously into the cafeteria and sat down at a table by himself. He began to eat his lunch, and then a beautiful thing happened. A couple young men came over and invited him to sit with them. From that point on, I knew he was going to be okay. This young man went on to serve the school as a manager for two varsity sports. I could barely hold back my tears of joy at the end of his senior year when I got to place a state runner-up medal around his neck for his support of a team in their run to state.

This courageous young man and our welcoming student body taught me how to see the good in others. As St. John Chrysostom said, 'What greater work is there than touching the minds and hearts of young people.' More often than not, they are the ones teaching me."

Helping Students Feel At Home with the Call to Become an ACE Teacher

Written by William Schmitt on Friday, 12 October 2012.

Notre Dame Residence Hall Rector Spreads a Message He Embraces

Notre Dame students approach their residence hall rectors with all sorts of questions. If they're wondering about a possible career in teaching, and especially if they happen to live in O'Neill Hall, their rector Ed Mack is an ideal source of answers.

Because he spent 33 years as a Catholic high school teacher before arriving to head the O'Neill staff ten years ago, and because he wants Notre Dame students to be well supported as they pursue a profession he loves, Mack's answers about teaching always point toward the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE).

He says he often has chances to "plant a seed" about ACE in his conversations with first-year students, perhaps because they're considering teaching among their future options or their parents are teachers.

"I tell them, if you're thinking about teaching, ACE is a super, Catholic mission-oriented way to get your master's degree and teaching experience through Notre Dame," says Mack. His "street cred" as an educator—still today, he's an adjunct professor across the street at Holy Cross College—combines with his empathy toward individuals as a rector who's "plugged into the lives" of residents in the dorm.

He winds up having more detailed conversations with seniors who may be considering different pathways into the teaching profession, and he can acknowledge to them that the first couple of years in the classroom will be challenging.

"I always tell them about the enormous support system you get through ACE—not only in the summers when you're studying here on campus, but the visits to your school and to your ACE community home [by ACE faculty and staff] during the school year," Mack says.

"You're living in a community of people your age, with similar ambitions, hopes and dreams, decency and integrity. Plus there's a support system not only from Notre Dame, but also in the school where you're teaching—from your mentor teacher and your principal."

These aspects of ACE Teaching Fellows make a difference, he says. They clearly carry some weight with the students: About a dozen alumni of O'Neill Hall have applied and successfully completed the formation program.

Mack derives such joy from seeing excellent, caring people pursue the vocation of teaching that he regularly serves on the ACE interview teams who meet with applicants every February. He doesn't leave campus to interview the many applicants graduating from colleges across the country, and he doesn't participate in the interviews of students from O'Neill.

Nevertheless, the connections to young people through the call to teaching can span time and distance in remarkable ways. Mack in particular remembers Brad Cake, whom he taught in high school—in his Freshman Honors English class in 2000-2001. Brad did not attend Notre Dame as an undergraduate but suddenly appeared in the summer of 2008, having successfully applied to ACE.

"It was a pleasure to have him here for the two summers." Brad stayed in Austin, where he taught as an ACEr. He's married to a young woman he met while teaching in Austin, and he has continued a career in Catholic school teaching. Mack stays in touch with both Brad and his parents, with memories that hark back to his own days as a high school teacher. "ACE just has a way of interweaving in people's lives," he observes.

As a teacher at heart, Mack is glad that extraordinary young people are coming into ACE and entering the profession: "I'm always so impressed by the quality of the people" from across campus and across the country. He's not the only rector helping to interview applicants, and he's certainly not the only rector helping to point the men and women of their dorms toward ACE.

Indeed, ACE is grateful to Mack and to all the rectors whose wide-ranging discussions with Notre Dame students occasionally involve this vocational choice. It's a comfortable conversation about the values and virtues of this home away from home, he explains. "The best thing about ACE is that it's at Notre Dame."

ACE Teaching Fellows in the News: Well-Chosen Words About ACE Community Life

Written by William Schmitt on Thursday, 11 October 2012.

An ACE Story--Gratitude for the Gifts of a Home Away from Home

Rachel Hamilton, a 2012 graduate of Notre Dame and now a Catholic school teacher in Tucson through the Alliance for Catholic Education, reflects on her personal ACE story in a commentary for the Notre Dame Alumni Association e-newsletter, ND Today. She describes the support and fellowship she experiences in a ACE Teaching Fellows community--becoming a win-win for her and her students. "I feel at peace," she says, "because of the love and kindness of the ACE community and the Notre Dame community I have found here in Tucson."

A Letter from Chicago: Service to, and Love for, Catholic Schools Mix with Football

Written by William Schmitt, Drew Clary on Wednesday, 10 October 2012.

Irish Victory at Soldier Field Follows Signs of Hope for a Garden at St. Ann

This season’s installment in Notre Dame’s Shamrock Series – the annual football home game played at a neutral site – took numerous fans to Chicago last weekend, where the Fighting Irish played the University of Miami. Given that Chicago has the largest concentration of Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) graduates of any city in the country, it was only natural that ACE also went on the road to be among the countless members of the extended Notre Dame family.

The ACE events began with an enjoyable evening at Gibsons Steakhouse on Thursday night. Around 100 people joined in a celebration of Catholic schools while gearing up for Saturday’s big game. There was a strong showing of ACE Advocates from the region—ACE alumni and other members of the movement in support of Catholic schools—along with a number of ACE leaders based at Notre Dame.

Friday brought an exciting opportunity to serve a Chicago-area Catholic school that is thriving in spite of seemingly huge challenges. St. Ann’s School, in Pilsen, is led by principal Benny Morten, a graduate of Notre Dame, ACE’s ACE Teaching Fellows, and the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program. Benny is also a recipient of ACE's Michael Pressley Award for Excellence in Catholic Education. Members of the ACE community offered support for the event, which was coordinated by the Notre Dame Alumni Association.

Service projects included some beautification work around the courtyard and playground, building picnic tables, and painting prayer rocks for the prayer garden that will be part of the school’s next big undertaking. The space, which will become the Father Don McNeill Garden, was blessed by St. Ann’s pastor and Chicago Auxiliary Bishop, the Most Rev. Alberto Rojas.

ACE welcomed gameday by hosting one of its largest tailgate parties. A great friend of ACE’s got a few of his buddies together to form a “tailgate committee”, and the product was an amazing time! ACE teachers, ACE graduates, ACE Advocates, parents of current and past ACE teachers, and many other friends and supporters of ACE and Catholic schools dropped by throughout the day

The decisive football victory at Solider Field on Saturday night was a fitting finish to a great weekend. Ultimately, ACE’s joyful participation in the celebration was possible thanks to all of the people who have helped to make Catholic schools such an integral force for good in the United States.

-- From Drew Clary, Assistant Director, Notre Dame's Institute for Educational Initiatives

Photo: Auxiliary Bishop Alberto Rojas blesses the McNeill Garden at Saint Ann's Catholic School, a Chicago-area site where ACE has had a significant presence and where the current principal earned two master's degrees in ACE formation programs for teachers and leaders. The garden is named in honor of Rev. Don McNeill. ACE members were among those providing services at the school on Oct. 5.

ACE in the News: ACE Consulting and the ACE Collaborative

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 08 October 2012.

                The Pittsburgh Catholic reported on support that the Diocese received from ACE Consulting in conducting a “listening tour” about Catholic schools.

                The Mississippi Catholic covered the role of the ACE Collaborative for Academic Excellence in helping teacher teams in the Diocese of Jackson to assess and improve curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

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