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Catholic School Champion: Stephen LaBrecque

on Wednesday, 29 August 2012.

StephenLSpotlightStephen LaBrecque (ACE 19) captures the spirit of ACE Teaching Fellows when he says, "I want to give back and help students, not just academically, but also spiritually, emotionally, and athletically." We asked him a few questions as he was preparing to start his first year of community life and teaching in Dallas, Texas.

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I just graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor's degree in English. Prior to ACE, my experiences in education have been varied. I taught religious education throughout high school, and I tutored at the Robinson Community Learning Center while at Notre Dame. I also did an Appalachia Service Seminar at a small high school in David, Kentucky.  This year I will be teaching English at Bishop Dunne Catholic High School in Dallas.

What drew you to Catholic education?

When I made the decision to transfer to Notre Dame, I was drawn by the University's mission to educate the mind, body and spirit. This focus on the whole person played a large role in my decision to join ACE and teach in Catholic Schools. I want to give back and help students, not just academically, but also spiritually, emotionally and athletically.

How have your first months in ACE shaped your vision of education?

My [early] experiences in ACE have helped to refocus my view of education. Too often we, as educators, get caught up grouping students by test scores and grade levels and demographics. ACE has shown me that we must get back to the human elements of education. We cannot forget that we are dealing with students, parents, and local communities. As teachers we must remember that first and foremost we are serving people.

Below, Stephen is pictured with the members of his ACE community (L to R): Gregg Schettini, Maria Isabel Eugenio, Stephen, Blair Carlin, Keaton Van Beveren, and Nick Reed.


"ACE Collaborative" Brings Structure, Resources to Teams in Additional Dioceses

Written by William Schmitt on Friday, 24 August 2012.

Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Are the Focus of ACE Collaborative for Academic Excellence

Four dioceses are the newest partners in an Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) initiative that empowers teachers for teamwork that will shape the future of instruction at their schools.

The ACE Collaborative for Academic Excellence (ACAE) began conducting workshops this summer with Catholic school leaders and teacher teams in the Dioceses of Camden and Paterson in New Jersey; the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi; and the Diocese of Savannah, Georgia.

The ACAE, based at the University of Notre Dame, continues to work with educators in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, the Diocese of Reno, and the Diocese of Tucson. The collaborations are a sustained professional development program, providing a framework to strengthen curriculum, instruction, and assessment in Catholic schools.

Teacher Training Institute Launched in Haiti

Written by William Schmitt on Thursday, 23 August 2012.

Educators Build Community, Focus on Student Learning & Development

“How can I identify students who do not understand my course well? How can I help them?”

“How and to what extent can history or geography become a practical course?”

“I teach chemistry in an area where there are no chemistry labs. How?”

The teachers in the first cohort of the Institut Supérieure Marcel Bédard (ISBM) had plenty of questions. Some were questions that vex teachers around the world, others were particular to the environment, and nearly all demonstrated a commitment to student learning and a desire to improve teaching practice. These questions were the intellectual backdrop for the institute’s inaugural week in Cap-Haïtien, Haiti, on Monday through Thursday. ISBM is sponsored by the Congregation of Holy Cross in Haiti in partnership with Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education.

The group will tackle the tough questions over the next two years as the teachers take part in the Institute’s innovative secondary teacher training program, but a large portion of the week’s activities were dedicated to orientation and community building. Teachers presented newly acquainted colleagues to the group and swapped stories about their mentors and classroom experiences. They also paired up for learning, with technology whizzes helping those who had never used a mouse to learn the basics so that all participants can take part in the Institute’s distance learning program.

Fatal Josue, an English teacher at Collège Notre-Dame du Perpetuel Secours in Cap-Haïtien, appreciated the interaction with his colleagues. “I can ask the other English teachers to share their ideas. We can share curriculum and exams,” Josue said. “Our goals should be similar.” Online learning communities, one pillar of the distance learning program, will facilitate that exchange.

The teachers also explored the purposes and goals of education, referencing guiding documents released in recent years by the Haitian Catholic church and the Haitian government. Both organizations emphasize students’ active involvement in their own learning, with the aim of developing the skills needed to participate fully in Haiti’s civic life and economy guided by social and moral values.

“ISMB aims to be a leader in Haitian education reform,” said Nirvah Jean Jacques, the program’s Academic Adviser and lead instructor in teaching methodology. “Both the Church and the state have articulated forward-thinking visions, which are very compatible. We will help teachers bring those visions to life in the classroom.”

To do so, the 32 participating teachers will learn new ways to plan lessons, organize learning activities, and assess student learning. As illustrated in their questions, though, many already have the necessary desire to facilitate effective learning among all students. Jean-Baptiste Gasner, a social science and Creole teacher at Collège Sainte-Eugène de Mazenod in Fort Liberté, summed it up simply. “I hope my students will surpass me in their achievement.”

-- Thanks to Dan Pier for this updated story.

-- Photo: The first cohort of participants in the ISMB.

ACE, Holy Cross to Launch Teacher Institute in Haiti

on Monday, 20 August 2012.

In partnership with the Alliance for Catholic Education, the Congregation of Holy Cross will introduce this week a unique institution to improve educational quality in Haitian high schools. Institut Supérieur Marcel Bédard (ISMB), named for a beloved Holy Cross priest and educator who served more than half his life in Haiti, will open its doors with an inaugural week for teachers in a robust in-service education program.

“This program is designed with the same passion for excellence that marks the Holy Cross educational tradition,” said Rev. Vernet Luxana, CSC, Director of the institute. “We believe it can serve as a model for training teachers who want to serve Haiti in the New Secondary,” he added, referring to a Haitian reform which aims to educate youth to be active and positive contributors to society and the economy.

Innovative approach to teaching methodology

The institute will use an innovative blend of coursework, school-based coaching, and distance education to deliver a two-year sequence of study in high quality instructional methods. Most participating teachers have university degrees in their subject matter, but few have received any training in teaching methodology. In fact, Haiti currently has no system for certifying secondary teachers and very few places in secondary teacher training programs. The Ministry of Education asked Holy Cross and ACE to help address this limitation.

ACE in the News: Pressley Awards for ACErs Covered in Conn. and Ga.

Written by William Schmitt on Friday, 17 August 2012.

Molly Carlin and Kyle Pietrantonio, ACE graduates and current leaders in Catholic education in Atlanta, received coverage from the Georgia Bulletin newspaper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. The newspaper covered the fact that both of them recently received the Michael Pressley Awards for Excellence in Catholic Education at ACE's annual Commencement ceremonies. Molly was also featured as one of the Archdiocese's new principals, with a mention of her ACE background.

Dr. Michael Faggella-Luby, an ACE graduate who received the Michael Pressley Award for a Promising Scholar in the Education Field, received coverage in the Hartford Courant. He is an Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut.


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