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In the Spotlight: Jeff Kerscher

on Friday, 17 August 2012.

kerscherspotlightThis week we caught up with ACE graduate Jeffrey Kerscher. After three years of teaching in inner-city Washington, DC and a year serving as a dean of a Catholic high school in Florida, Jeff has just taken a job as a blended learning manager and school culture consultant for Seton Education Partners at St. Therese Catholic Academy in Seattle, Washington.

Walk us down the path of how you became involved in Catholic schools and the Alliance for Catholic Education.

I became obsessed with the idea of the achievement and opportunity gap when, as a sophomore in college, I ran a mentoring organization for inner-city kids at Xavier. I saw how much it meant for both the kids and their families to have exposure to faith-based role models. As a product of Catholic education and the child of a Catholic educator, I knew that serving in ACE would enable me to fulfill my social justice oriented mission of closing the achievement gap while ensuring that a faith based option existed for the less fortunate. In my work now at St. Therese, our goal is to create and expand opportunities for disadvantaged children to receive an academically excellent, technologically advanced, and vibrantly Catholic education.

Why do you value Catholic schools? What drives you to get up every morning?

I value Catholic schools because they provide a community unlike any other – a community grounded in faith that provides students with the tools to become morally, spiritually, and intellectually excellent individuals eager to serve the common good. They have a transformative power and there is no place where that power is needed more than America's inner-city neighborhoods. Every morning I wake up determined to bring that opportunity to every kid and family that wants a better life. I serve them not because they are Catholic, but because I am Catholic.

Explain how ACE has played a role in forming you as a leader, teacher, and person.

ACE allowed me to dedicate my life to an issue that I feel passionate about while giving me the opportunity to grow professionally and spiritually in the process. It has ignited a passion to learn and a desire to always find a way to do more for students.

To see a video about the work of Seton Education Partners, click here.

ACE in the News: Notre Dame ACE Academies in Tampa Bay

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 14 August 2012.

Residents of Pinellas County in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Fla., learned more about the Notre Dame ACE Academies initiative when the Tampa Bay Newspapers wrote about Notre Dame ACE Academies partnership at Sacred Heart Catholic School.

"The idea is to provide comprehensive support to schools that serve at-risk kids and low-income communities,” said Christian Dallavis, Notre Dame ACE Academies director, quoted in the article.

The reporter also quoted the school's Cristina Espino, talking about Notre Dame ACE Academies' success in Tucson. “They’ve had really good results in Tucson.” She continued, “They’re improving student performance and leveraging their tax credit scholarships.”

New Leadership at ESS Minor Invites Undergraduates to Study K-12 Education

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 07 August 2012.

Notre Dame’s interdisciplinary minor in Education, Schooling, and Society (ESS) enters the 2012-2013 academic year with new leadership, inviting undergraduates to study K-12 learning and education from new perspectives.

The new director of ESS is Nicole McNeil, Associate Professor of Psychology. Her pioneering research, which focuses on the development of mathematical thinking, has garnered honors and awards from both the U.S. Government, and the American Psychological Association.

Maria McKenna, Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Department of Africana Studies, is the new senior associate director of ESS. She teaches courses in the social contexts of schooling, special education, and philosophy of education for ESS, Africana Studies, and the Remick Leadership program.

Julie Dallavis is the new associate director of ESS. She holds an M. Ed. degree from ACE’s ACE Teaching Fellows, having taught middle school language arts in Atlanta. She has served as managing editor of ACE Press and of Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice.

ESS, one of the largest undergraduate minors in the College of Arts and Letters, was established in 2002 by Stuart Greene, associate professor of English, and Julie Turner, associate professor of psychology. They had served as co-directors of the program since its inception. Nancy McAdams, an educator who taught ESS internship courses, retired as the program’s associate director earlier this year.

Students in the ESS minor study and conduct research on a wide range of topics related to learning and education from a variety of perspectives using the tools of liberal arts and social sciences.

ESS is an interdisciplinary program housed jointly in the College of Arts and Letters and the Institute for Educational Initiatives (IEI). McNeil and McKenna are IEI Fellows, and Dallavis is an IEI Associate.

Students who want to learn more about the ESS minor are invited to contact Julie Dallavis at .

Catholic School Champion: Brick Maier

on Thursday, 02 August 2012.

BrickTeaserWhat do ACE Teaching Fellows, film-making, entrepreneurship, and Catholic schools have in common? Brick Maier. Over the last several years, the ACE 8 graduate has put his ACE teaching experience to work, honing his skills as a filmmaker and entrepreneur to create educational resources for community and classroom.

Of his years as an ACE teacher, Brick writes, "The actual experience of learning how to teach was very humbling." But the result was confidence. ACE taught Brick to take on new challenges boldly, knowing that "if I could survive the first couple years of teaching, I could do pretty much anything."

Most recently, that has meant developing tools that foster creative play and media literacy. Specifically, he has created a Tabletop Moviemaking Studio Kit, which enhances the power of story-telling. Catholic schools, he tells us, are particularly amenable to such a resource. "I have found that [they] are uniquely positioned to move quickly on implementing innovative ideas because the organizational leadership is nimble." Currently, Brick is raising funds for the production of these kits via a Kickstarter campaign.

The former Fulbright scholar with a heart for today's youth sees that Catholic schools are a powerful force for positive change, "especially in our inner city schools. From my teaching experience in Los Angeles to filming in Catholic schools in Haiti, I have learned that Catholic education, simply put, opens doors."

Support Brick Maier's work here. See his video about Haiti here. To order a Tabletop Moviemaking Studio Kit, click here.


ACE in the News: Reports in "Today's Catholic"

Written by William Schmitt on Wednesday, 01 August 2012.

The latest news from Today's Catholic and www.todayscatholicnews.org in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend includes three articles mentioning the Alliance for Catholic Education There's coverage of Bishop Kevin Rhoades presiding at Mass for ACE's class of 2012 graduates as part of Commencement celebrations. In another piece, Dr. Mark Myers, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Dicoese, comments on the Commencement ceremony itself. A separate article in the July 29 issue of the diocesan newspaper notes that the new principal of St. Adalbert School in South Bend, Andrew Currier, is an ACE graduate.

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