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Research Award for Director of Notre Dame ACE Academies

Written by William Schmitt on Wednesday, 02 May 2012.

Dr. Christian Dallavis Honored by AERA Catholic education Scholars

Christian Dallavis, director of the Notre Dame ACE Academies initiative, has been honored for best dissertation by the Catholic Education special interest group (SIG) of theAmerican Educational Research Association (AERA).

The SIG, which brings together scholars from around the world who conduct research in the field of Catholic education, bestowed the award on Dallavis as the group gathered at the AERA annual conference, held April 13-17, 2012, in Vancouver, Canada.

Dallavis's dissertation, titled "Extending theories of culturally responsive pedagogy: An ethnographic examination of Catholic schooling in an immigrant community in Chicago," explored the capacity for Catholic schools to be culturally responsive to their students as ethnicity in a community changed over time.

He studied a particular Chicago-area Catholic school during two time periods—its early days after its founding in 1903 to serve the local Polish immigrant community and its recent days serving a community that has become virtually all Hispanic.

His ethnographic and historical research showed that the key tenets of what scholars now call "culturally responsive pedagogy" were present in the school during its early days. "Polish culture, literature, language, and history were at the heart of the school, right alongside American history and literature, English, and religion," Dallavis commented in a recent interview. But contemporary teachers don't emphasize the home culture of their students in the classroom in the same ways today.

This shift is symptomatic of a broader trend in American classrooms in recent years, as the minority composition of student bodies has increased dramatically but the teaching force has not. Dallavis said his study "identifies missed opportunities" for teachers and principals in Catholic schools to enrich cultural connections with students, because a growing body of research suggests that culturally responsive teaching is an effective approach to improving minority student achievement. Dallavis contends that faith-based schools have a unique opportunity to be culturally responsive, because faith is a critical part of the home culture for families who choose Catholic schools.

"Many Catholic schools were extraordinarily culturally responsive to the immigrant communities from Europe that founded the schools a century ago. Today, Catholic schools ought to look to that legacy to prepare teachers and principals to be culturally responsive to today's children in similar ways," Dallavis said, summarizing the take-away points from the dissertation. The research was part of his graduate work at the University of Michigan, where he earned a joint Ph.D. in English and Education.

The study received the SIG's inaugural dissertation award; the SIG was authorized by the AERA only in 2010, an act affirming the validity of Catholic education as a field of scholarly research. The SIG is chaired by Shane Martin, professor and dean of the Loyola Marymount University School of Education.

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Chilean Presidential Candidate Discusses Education at ACE

on Monday, 30 April 2012.

It's not every day one gets to meet the man who may be Chile's next president. But given their vested interest in that beautiful country (see ChACE), folks in the Alliance for Catholic Education got to do just that.

Claudio-Orrega-StoryWith his wife Francisca, Claudio Orrego, a mayor of Santiago and presidential candidate for 2014, sat down with members of ACE faculty and staff to discuss the state of education in his country. Over lunch hosted by ACE co-founder and Director of the Institute for Educational Initiatives (IEI) Fr. Tim Scully, Mayor Orrego outlined Chile's current economic and educational ups and the downs.

"[Chile] has grown and prospered," the Mayor said, "but not all have benefited equally."

In fact, though statistically the country ranks about average in terms of global economies, just 10% of the population holds the nation's wealth. 90 percent live on less—-in some cases, much less—-than $8,000/year. Mayor Orrego calls this the Tyranny of Averages.

Given the way education is structured, this tyranny has closed many school doors to Chile's poorest children, an injustice that has brought thousands of protesting students to the streets in the past year.

The message hasn't been lost on Mr. Orrego. Under his leadership as mayor of Peñalolén, Santiago, per pupil investment is on the rise, as are student test scores and the number of students enrolling in higher education, which has grown from just 8% in 2007 to a whopping 63% in 2011.

"Our goal," says the popular politician, "must be to ensure that more people can share in the benefits of living in Santiago." As he fights for social justice there, so he fights for it across the country. "Any positive change in any place...is also a positive change for Chile."

April Retreat a Good Start for Members of ACE 19

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 24 April 2012.

Newcomers to ACE Teaching Fellows See a Future of Formation

Plenty of fans came to Notre Dame on the weekend of April 20-22 for a preview of next fall's Fighting Irish football season, but the annual Blue-Gold Game was hardly the only campus event introducing a mix of friends to a future of opportunity and teamwork.

This was the weekend of the traditional April Retreat hosted by ACE Teaching Fellows, the signature teacher-formation initiative of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE). Some 87 members of the recently selected ACE 19 cohort came to taste what it will be like to be an ACE teacher for the next two years.

"It's really the start of the whole ACE experience," says Chuck Lamphier, director of ACE Advocates, who remembers his own attendance at an April Retreat when he was a new member of ACE 10. The schedule of events is traditionally a dynamic mix of the three pillars of ACE formation—professional service, spiritual growth, and community life.

A highlight of the retreat focused on the ACE community that each new teacher will join in the diocese where he or she has been assigned to serve in a local Catholic school. Fellow members of ACE 19 who have been assigned to the same community, soon to be sharing a house and offering each other moral support in their formation, are introduced to each other.

The bonds of fellowship established at the retreat will extend through the two years of the ACE Teaching Fellows experience—and often for the rest of the community members' lives.

Additional important relationships were initiated over the weekend because participants also included superintendents and other leaders from the dioceses where the new ACE teachers will serve. No fewer than 46 diocesan and school administrators came to campus from all around the country to meet the ACE teachers they will be hosting and overseeing.

Tom Doyle, senior director of the ACE Teaching Fellows M.Ed. degree program, gave the ACE 19 newcomers an overview of the academic rigors set to start this summer.

Many of these ACErs are poised to receive their undergraduate degrees from the University of Notre Dame or Saint Mary's College this spring, just before they start their first ACE summer. But the cohort consists of graduates from over 40 different colleges and universities, including Dartmouth, Duke, Fordham, Gonzaga, Harvard, Marquette, and the Congregation of Holy Cross institutions St. Edward's University and King's College.

"Some ACE 19 members are entering their two-year commitment to ACE Teaching Fellows after a year or more of post-graduate international service," adds Sarah Greene, associate director in the ACE Teaching Fellows pastoral team. "Two came to the April retreat shortly after returning from post-graduate service-teaching in Japan and Korea, respectively. One is finishing a year of service in a medical clinic in Costa Rica, and one served with the Peace Corps in Benin. We also welcome two new ACE 19s from Ireland."

The April Retreat, which also offered opportunities for Mass and other prayer, ended on Sunday in time for many of the participants to head back to their usual Monday workload in various dioceses and schools. Whether they resided far away or elsewhere on campus, they closed their weekends better connected to ACE's past, present, and future.

Catholic School Champion: Fr. Joe Carey

on Friday, 20 April 2012.

Over the years, Fr. Joe Carey has worn many hats in his service to Catholic education. The 1962 graduate of Notre Dame earned his M.A. in Theology from Holy Cross College in Washington, D.C., was ordained a Holy Cross priest in 1969, and went on to teach at Notre Dame High School for six years.

Fr. Joe then served as Director of Vocations for the CSC order for four years. At the University of Notre Dame, he was both an Assistant Rector and Rector, a Financial Counselor, Assistant Director--and then Interim Director--of Campus Ministry for Religious Education and Retreats. During that time, Fr. Joe also served in Campus Ministry at St. Mary's College for five years.

Recently, this long-time friend of the Alliance for Catholic Education officially joined the ACE family as its chaplain.

Fr. Joe notes, "I believe that God loves all people and ministry is about bringing all people the good news that they are made in the image and likeness of God."

Survey of Principals by Remick Leadership Program Sees Challenges

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 16 April 2012.

Latest ACE Research Finds Principals Faith-filled but Under Pressure

Catholic elementary school principals, speaking out in a major nationwide survey, report experiencing acute challenges and frustrations in the operation of their schools, and they identify financial management, marketing, Catholic identity, enrollment management, and long-range planning as their schools’ top five areas of need.

The study, just completed by the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) and its Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, is a rare, comprehensive glimpse of these principals’ views on what they need to do their jobs better and how they describe the state of Catholic education today.

"It is difficult to read the responses of Catholic school principals in this study and not sense both their commitment to this ministry and the overwhelming responsibilities that are associated with it,” say the authors of “Leadership Speaks: A National Survey of Catholic Primary School Principals.” They paint a picture of principals as faith-filled individuals confronting unusually challenging expectations, worthy of new forms of support, such as their own national association.

The study has not yet been published, but the authors—Rev. Ronald Nuzzi, senior director of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, along with two members of the Remick Leadership Program faculty, Anthony Holter and James Frabutt—presented an overview of their work during the National Catholic Educational Association annual convention held April 11-13 in Boston.

A total of 1,685 Catholic school principals representing all areas of the country and all types of school locations and organizational structures, participated in the survey during 2010, answering nearly three dozen questions.

When invited to give open-ended answers, the participants narrowed down the five top areas of need to the two they called most important—enrollment management and financial management—which together often capture the most basic goal of survival, keeping a school open.

Based on the data obtained, “the Church seems to have hired well, attracting mission-driven and loyal individuals to the overarching goals of Catholic education,” according to the study. But these principals live daily with what has been called “the tyranny of the urgent,” hungering for more support—“emotional as well as financial.”

“A Catholic school principal has job expectations that go beyond what can be found in secular educational literature,” the authors note, pointing out that the work of a chief executive officer and a chief operating officer is combined with the school’s overarching religious purpose: “the sanctification of all its stakeholders.”

The study provides enormous amounts of data describing today’s Catholic school principals and outlining their views, and the authors conclude with four recommendations:

· Develop “new models of governance for Catholic elementary schools” that shift the panoply of principal responsibilities “into a more manageable and realistic position description.”

· “Develop a program of ongoing professional development and renewal for principals” that address their needs, both professional and personal.

· Organize a national association of Catholic school principals as a means “to give voice to their leadership concerns at every level and to promote advocacy for Catholic schools at the national level.”

· “Convene multiple groups of national and international stakeholders to advance the understanding of Catholic schools as instruments of the new evangelization.”

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