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ACE Joins in National STEM Education Dialogue

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 18 June 2012.

Notre Dame Forum Event Probes Science and Math Teaching

National experts and local practitioners in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teaching gathered at Notre Dame on June 12 to envision using those disciplines to create "a generation of optimistic problem-solvers."

Distinguished panels led an audience of about 160 educators in discussions focused on science and math, with a University vice president citing the importance of this dialogue as a capstone to the Notre Dame Forum series on "reimagining" K-12 schooling.

"It's essential that we reclaim STEM education for all of our students, whatever their interests and career aspirations may be," said Dr. Christine Maziar, who is also senior associate provost. She said the STEM disciplines can undergird United States leadership in innovation, provide tools for analyzing the world, and give students confidence in addressing today's challenges.

The most effective way to improve the nation's current teaching of science is "an investment in the professional capital of the educational system"—through attracting and retaining excellent teachers—said panelist Jonathan Osborne, Shiriam Family Professor of Science Education at Stanford University.

In the Spotlight: Rachel Hamilton

on Saturday, 16 June 2012.

RachelStoryJune2012This spring, Rachel Hamilton said yes. "Yes" to the ACE Teaching Fellows program, and "yes" to God.

The recent Notre Dame graduate just started her first summer as a teacher in ACE Teaching Fellows. And she speaks eloquently about how two weeks' experience in the program is already beginning to shape her.

"If there is one thing that stands out to me...it is the idea of 'saying yes.' This is not simply because we hear the ACE faculty and staff repeatedly saying 'Thank you for saying yes to ACE.' It is more than that. It is about agency. It is about affirmation.

We are not thanked for 'accepting' a place in ACE, and I think that distinction is crucial. A simple acceptance is passive; saying yes is active. By saying yes we have committed to continue saying yes for the next two years: to our professors, to our supervisors, to the stresses of daily life, to our students, and to God. Saying yes means that we are actively choosing to give of ourselves over the next two years to serve the needs of our nation's children, and that this choice is a response to our calling manifested through our gifts, talents, and virtues."

I know the next two years will be filled with obstacles and moments of great stress. The ACE staff has been honest about that the entire time. Yet, hopefully, this continued affirmation of our own agency in choosing to serve and choosing to give and choosing to follow God's call will sustain us as we embark on our teaching journeys.

In the Spotlight: Abby Salazar

on Thursday, 07 June 2012.

abbysalazarAbby Salazar (ACE 16) has long valued the connection of faith and learning.

As a young Catholic growing up in Lake Jackson, Texas, she attended public schools—schools she loved and in which she was academically challenged and morally formed, but which left her spiritually hungry. "I loved my Catholic faith and was fascinated by the Catholic Church. And I craved learning more."

So she attended the University of Notre Dame and, in her first year, took a class that explored Catholic Social Teaching through community service. She tutored at the local juvenile correctional center, a life-changing experience that not only ignited her desire to serve the under-served through teaching, but also deepened her appreciation for the way faith and learning entwine. It was a particular delight for her, then, when she later became part of the ACE Teaching Fellows program and realized, she says, "that I could live Catholic Social Teaching each day in my own classroom."

The freedom to directly link faith with learning was a great encouragement to her as a Catholic teacher. "I loved sharing the Eucharist with my students at school mass. I loved when our middle school science lesson curved into a college-worthy theological discussion led by my kids. I loved starting parent-teacher conferences with prayer."

To Abby, this is what sets Catholic schools apart. "I want all children to get a great education no matter what," says the small woman with the big heart. "And Catholic schools can offer that. Catholic schools especially support those who sometimes fly under the radar in other places. They can give kids the education they deserve, the love and attention they crave—and the faith formation they need!"

Abby Salazar is an assistant director of ACE Teaching Fellows.
To learn more about the program, click here.

Welcome ACE 19!

on Thursday, 07 June 2012.

ACE19Opening2012 Small
On Friday, June 1, members of the newest ACE Teaching Fellows cohort (19) landed at Notre Dame for their first summer of teacher training. They began trickling onto campus early in the morning, and spent the day moving into their dorm rooms and getting settled for a late-afternoon opening session and picnic, and then a weekend retreat of contemplation about the next year of their lives.

"It's an intense, gear-changing weekend," one ACE graduate mused, full of teachings and conversations about the transition into ACE life, graduate school, and the call to discipleship. Among topics the cohort considered: the shift from college student to teacher and graduate student; the role of serving one's school; and how the Spirit has gifted each of them uniquely for the experience ahead.

Considering the fact that most of the cohort graduated college less than a month ago, a handful arrived from other countries, and all are completely new to every facet of ACE, it's no surprise that the weekend is intellectually and emotionally potent. ACE pastoral staff members are therefore careful to ground every discussion in the context of ministry, view each pillar through a spiritual lens, and encourage the new teachers that as the next two years unfold, they will be serving in the strength of God, who never leaves or forsakes them.

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