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Parental Choice Symposium Will Prepare Leaders as Opportunities Grow in States

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 06 March 2012.

Applications Invited for a Summertime Immersion in School Choice Insights

Now that 2011 has been dubbed "the year of school choice" because the number of private school choice programs in the United States jumped significantly, 2012 may be your time to prepare for the debates, challenges, and opportunities as school choice (or parental choice) policies gain even more momentum.

The Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) will host its annual Parental Choice Symposium, the premier seminar for future leaders in the parental choice movement, on June 15-20. A dynamic agenda will include visits to Wisconsin and Florida—states with two of the most expansive choice programs in the country—for the 15-20 individuals selected to participate. The participants' tuition, travel, and other costs will be covered by a full scholarship, so interested parties are urged to file their applications soon.

"School choice is happening across the United States, and it is time to form your opinions on the issues surrounding this important topic," says Anna M. Jacob, an ACE Teaching Fellows graduate who attended last year's symposium and is now pursuing her Ph.D. in education policy at the University of Arkansas.

Catholic Education Champion: John Kakande

on Thursday, 01 March 2012.

John Kakande is one of ACE's most far-flung ambassadors, a young father and youth minister leading the efforts of Play Like A Champion Today® in Kkindu, Uganda, East Africa. In this remote village outside the city of Masaka, John works to advance a vision of sports as ministry that helps young people grow physically, emotionally, morally and spiritually. In Kkindu, you'll find a Play Like A Champion Today® sign (mimicking the very sign inside the Notre Dame football team's locker room) proudly rising in front a newly cleared sport field, called "Our Lady's Field." And you'll see children embracing the value of sport as a joyful release in life, and as a means of becoming stronger spiritually as well as physically.

John Kakande reports, "The community of Kkindu is one of the areas in Uganda which is highly affected by the AIDS pandemic, leaving the community with a lot of negative attitude towards their own life. With help from the Play Like A Champion ministry, we have used the sports platform to bring back hope in people who had lost it due to this HIV/AIDS pandemic. We use the various sports events that we hold in the community to pass on information about the HIV/AIDS prevention among the youth."

Among the Play Like a Champion activities Kakande oversees are soccer competitions, bicycle races, sack races among the young children, and net ball competitions among the girls. Children both Catholic and non-Catholic participate in these games. John Kakande continues, "These sports enable us to impart our Catholic religious values, [which] enables the youth to regain a sense of discipline, cooperation, respect and love for each other.

I am very pleased to extend our sincere gratitude towards Play Like A Champion Today ministry at the University of Notre Dame USA. Thanks to everyone for the great support and encouragement towards the youth sports ministry in Uganda."

The Play Like A Champion Today® educational ministry began in Uganda in 2009 and will expand this May when the Play Like a Champion team travels back to the country along with Notre Dame students who have taken the undergraduate classes associated with sports as a ministerial outreach and tool for whole human development. Together with Kevin Dugan, director of community outreach with the ND athletic department, the Play Like a Champion team will spread the "champion" philosophy across villages and schools throughout Uganda. The team will also work in conjunction with Uganda Martyrs University in beginning research on the effects of sport on children in a developing country.

ACE in Chile Transcends Borders and Languages

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 27 February 2012.

In a world where the call to teach and learn transcends national boundaries, the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) has found a powerful synergy in teaching English as a New Language (ENL), whether the learners reside in the United States or in Chile.

ACE at the University of Notre Dame has been offering an ENL licensure program since 2006, with the aim of increasing the expertise of Catholic school teachers who teach English-language learners. The ENL program is an integral part of ACE's mission to help Catholic schools become more inclusionary for immigrant children.

The ENL program arose, in part, because ACE started to send some of its teacher-formation graduates to Santiago, Chile, to teach English at St. George's College, a K-12 school administered by the Congregation of Holy Cross, according to Rita Lyden, coordinator of the Chile ACE program (ChACE). These ACE graduates communicated their own need for further preparation in English language instruction. ‎Brian Green, Jennifer Hendrix, Michelle Cobb, and Joe Waln were the first Chile ACE program (ChACE) cohort, arriving in August 2001. They were followed by Patrick Fennessy, Townsend Bailey, Erin Kent(Lillis), Erin Luby, Jeff Nichols, and Jennifer Mullins Podichetty in 2002.

"We began with just three teachers at St. George’s in 2000,” says Lyden. The school’s leadership asked Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., co-founder of ACE, “to tap into the amazing talent, experience, and spirit-filled enthusiasm of the graduating ACErs and send a few to St. George’s to be English language teachers."

In the Spotlight: Dan Faas

on Thursday, 23 February 2012.

ACE Mobile SmallDan Faas (pictured above, back row left, with his ACE community and Dr. Tom Doyle) is a middle school Language Arts and Religion teacher in Mobile, Alabama. The dedicated and creative teacher recently answered our questions about ACE Teaching Fellows:

What motivated you to apply to ACE?
I wanted to serve young people through teaching and also discern whether the vocation of teaching was "for me." The three pillars of ACE were what won me over to the program. There are a lot of teaching/service programs out there, but very few offer the built-in community and spiritual growth opportunities that ACE provides.

How has this experience changed you so far?
ACE has gradually made me into a more selfless person. The vast majority of my time and effort is dedicated to my students—which can be frustrating, but is ultimately incredibly rewarding. ACE has shown me that there are much more important things in life than my own comfort and convenience, and that serving others is the source of greatest fulfillment.

Where/how do you feel yourself making a difference?
I don't have many "aha" moments where I feel myself making a huge difference. Rather, I know that I've made the biggest difference just by showing up, day in and day out, talking about life with my students. I think the biggest difference I can make in my students' lives is just being a constant reminder that there is someone who cares about them, holds them to high expectations and believes they can achieve them. Being present and "not going away" over time has taught my students more than any 45-minute lesson, and has made the biggest difference.

What has been your greatest highlight thus far?
Being accepted into a school community and culture vastly different than my own. I'm so thankful to have been welcomed by the African-American community at Most Pure Heart of Mary and to become a part of a school family with such rich tradition and history.

For instance, I once accepted a challenge from one of my students to a rap battle — an incredibly foolish choice on my part. However, it worked out: My willingness to do so showed my students that I was engaged in their interests, willing to have fun with them, and not afraid to back down from a challenge. It was the student who was the one who eventually "cracked" under the pressure in our lighthearted duel and after that day, my students were more willing to trust, cooperate, and have fun with me.

Stations of the Cross for Teachers

Written by Ricky Austin on Wednesday, 22 February 2012.

A Series of Lenten Reflections

During Lent this year, the ACE Advocates for Catholic Schools are offering a series of brief meditations based on the Stations of the Cross. Sent twice a week to your email, each begins with a short Scripture passage, followed by a few words of reflection and then a brief prayer.  You can view the first station "Jesus is condemned to death" here.
Sign up now to receive these Lenten reflections.

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