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Gifts from Above: ACE in 2011 and 2012

on Wednesday, 04 January 2012.

2011 held some remarkable changes for the Alliance for Catholic Education. With the beginning of the year came the rollout of the Advocates' new website, which in turn brought the rollout of ACE's new website in September. We owe great thanks to ACE Advocates Assistant Director Ricky Austin for spearheading both projects and delivering these creative, user-friendly sites in record time. In May, ACE faculty and staff—long housed in multiple locations across campus—moved into the beautiful Carole Sandner Hall, capping the event with a weekend-long series of celebrations in September. Throughout the year ACE took an active role in the campus wide University of Notre Dame Forum, welcoming many guests. They included Michelle Rhee, former Chancellor of Washington, DC Public Schools, who participated in a panel last April; American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who participated in a panel in September; and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who spoke in November.

More changes are on the horizon for 2012. Later this month, ACE will draw attention to Catholic Schools Week for a larger audience on- and off-campus and the Strategic Interventions Teams program will go virtual. Throughout the year, Play Like a Champion Today® will develop educational materials for coaches who work with children with disabilities. Throughout the year, ACE will also launch initiatives within many of its units, including new studies to be released by the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program and plans for additional endeavors in research, professional development, and partnerships.

You'll find more detailed updates among these virtual pages as the year unfolds. Meantime, please keep ACE in your prayers, with gratitude to God, the author of these good gifts and guide of us all!

Saints Alive (for Education) in 2012

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 03 January 2012.

A fruitful resolution for the New Year (or for any time) is to follow in the footsteps of saints whom the Church has given us as models. Early January happens to bring the feast days of a few education-related saints whose footsteps provide particular inspiration for members of the ACE community.

setonJanuary 4 is the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), who opened America's first parish school in Baltimore, Maryland. January 5 is the feast of St. John Neumann (1811-1860), who, as Bishop of Philadelphia, established a diocesan model for the parochial schools of his day. January 6 is the feast of St. Andre Bessette (1845-1937), a brother in the Congregation of Holy Cross who reflected the Holy Cross passion to educate minds and hearts as a doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first native born American to be canonized by the Catholic Church. She was given the name "Mother" soon after she took her vows as a sister in 1809. She had become a Catholic just several years earlier, in 1805. By 1818, she and her religious sisters operated two schools and two orphanages.

Mother Seton founded Saint Joseph's Academy and Free School, a school for Catholic girls, in Emmitsburg, Maryland, in 1810. In the same year, she established a religious community caring for the children of the poor. The community was originally called the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph. Today, six religious communities trace their history to the founding of the Sisters of Charity.

NeumannSt. John Neumann, C.Ss.R., was a native of the present-day Czech Republic. He traveled to America, was ordained a priest, and became Bishop of Philadelphia in 1852. In this position, he oversaw the construction of numerous parishes and schools for immigrants, and he founded the first Catholic diocesan school system in the United States. He collapsed and died from a stroke on a Philadelphia street while running errands in 1860. Pope Paul VI declared him to be a saint of the Church in 1977.

Br. andre and childSt. Andre Bessette lacked the physical stamina and education to be a priest or teacher, but his embrace of his assigned task—to serve as porter at a Holy Cross school in Canada—yielded countless opportunities to serve the poor and the sick. Through his profound devotion to St. Joseph, Brother Andre's own story became one of healing the marginalized and transcending life's apparent dead ends. He personified and conveyed a powerful lesson of hope and trust, all through a personal humility that allowed others' lights to shine.

These saints—Seton, Neumann, and Bessette—help the ACE community to start off the year in the right frame of mind, receptive to the providential paths that the Lord establishes when He teaches us His ways and directs us to share what we have learned. As with the journey in ACE, the path of service is experienced one step at a time and passes through challenges, triumphs, and surprises. The only way to proceed is with humility and perseverance. But the saint must proceed.

The ACE community follows the examples of these great saints in serving Catholic schools. Perhaps you are considering applying to ACE, either in the ACE Teaching Fellows program or in the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program for aspiring Catholic school leaders. The deadlines for these formation programs are January 24 and February 1, respectively. Join the ACE community in learning from these saints, and many others, who point toward Christ the Teacher, Christ who wants to lift up the minds and hearts of the poor, the immigrant, the marginalized—and everyone.

Whatever your vocation may prove to be, let the Teacher lead you. "Master, to whom shall we go?" Peter said to Jesus. "You have the words of eternal life."

From the Field: Caitlin Wrend

on Wednesday, 21 December 2011.

As a product of Catholic schools, Caitlin Wrend (3rd from right, above) was drawn to the mission of ACE when she applied to the ACE Teaching Fellows (STT) program. "I wanted to work to make the gift of a Catholic education a reality for all children," she says, and become "part of this group that is wholeheartedly dedicated to the mission of strengthening Catholic schools."

Now in Tucson at San Xavier Mission School, Caitlin has one semester of 3rd grade teaching under her belt. Already she is aware of how the ACE mission applies in areas large and small. "This experience has opened my eyes to the many challenges our education system is facing today," she tells us. At the same time, it has narrowed her focus to the children. "It really is all about the kids," Caitlin says.

The "17 smiling faces" that greet her every morning remind her of the beacon of hope a Catholic school can be. And no matter the teaching hurdles she may cross on a given day, it's the students' "little ah-ha moments that make it all worthwhile!"

Some may wonder how soon young STT teachers know they're making a difference, especially because the job can be, as Caitlin says, "daunting and overwhelming." But Caitlin tells of a day in October when she saw that her instruction was taking hold. "My mom came to visit my classroom, and while she was reading with one of my students, my mom misunderstood something that had happened on the previous page. My student looked up at her and patiently said, 'Mrs. Wrend, you need to back up and re-read.' I realized that my students really are learning and using the strategies I am teaching them."

Click here to learn more about this program that brings hopes to schools, students, and teachers alike.

Grace in the Family Tree

on Wednesday, 21 December 2011.

jesus genealogyPut to music, the genealogy of Jesus, as it's found in Matthew's Gospel, takes about 2 minutes to sing. The list--3 sets of 14 generations each--includes the names of thieves (Jacob, who stole his brother's birthright) and murderers (David, who stole Uriah's wife and then had him killed), foreigners (Rahab and Ruth), and even a prostitute (Rahab again). In his book on Advent, Father Raymond Brown suggests why: Matthew's genealogy reflects the essential theology of Christianity: salvation by grace.

Of this, Gail Godwin writes, "Matthew's genealogy is showing us how the story of Jesus Christ contained--and would continue to contain--the flawed and inflicted and insulted, the cunning and the weak-willed and the misunderstood. His is an equal opportunity ministry for crooks and saints..."

"And this, of course," Godwin continues, "is where the message settles directly upon us...Isn't this a pretty hopeful testament to the likelihood that God is using us, with our individual flaws and gifts, in all manner of peculiar and unexpected ways? Who of us can say we're not in the process of being used right now, to fulfill some purpose whose grace and goodness would boggle our imagination if we could even begin to get our minds around it?" (Paraphrased from Watch for the LIght, p. 159.)

Listen to the song that brings this genealogy to life.

Your Future in ACE: Consider the Possibilities

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 19 December 2011.

This blessed time of year prompts us to look back upon cherished Christmas traditions and to look forward to a new year—often considering plans for the future that reflect our deepest values. If these values include education, community, faith, and service to the Church and society, this is a good time to consider the life-transforming experiences of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE).

Applications are now being accepted for ACE’s ACE Teaching Fellows program, which helps to form Catholic school educators, ready to serve at-risk children in under-resourced K-12 schools. Those who already teach can apply for the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program (RLP), which prepares the next generation of Catholic school leaders, ready to serve as principals for dynamic communities educating the mind and the heart.

These formation initiatives grant a master’s degree from one of the nation’s leading universities and offer an unrivaled combination of professional preparation, community solidarity, and spiritual growth. On-campus coursework at Notre Dame is integrated with online learning and the everyday life of serving in a Catholic school—the matchless opportunity to build skills as an educator while sustaining and strengthening the precious treasure of a Catholic education that gives children faith, hope, and love.

Consider sharing this unique experience and joining this supportive community.

Explore the “journey of an ACE teacher” in the ACE Teaching Fellows program. Meet a recent STT cohort of students and see some of their experiences in a video presentation. The deadline to apply for ACE Teaching Fellows is Jan. 24, 2012.

See the brochure that describes the Remick Leadership Program. Watch an introduction to the program from the director. The deadline to apply for the Remick Leadership Program is Feb. 1, 2012.

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