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Forum Panelists Find Common Ground

on Wednesday, 05 October 2011.

Unified tone helps move school reform forward

Forum Panelists

In a refreshing shift from typically contentious dialogue, four education reform experts shared the stage at Notre Dame last week and found the common ground on which their reform efforts are built. Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas (Tucson), Randi Weingarten (president, American Federation of Teachers), Wendy Kopp (CEO and founder, Teach for America ), and Juan Rangel (CEO, United Neighborhood Association) agreed on the depth of the crisis facing our nation's schools and—of particular meaning to ACE—the importance of teachers.

"Between 30% and 50% of teachers who walk into school the first day are gone by their third to fifth year," Ms. Weingarten said. "That is a huge problem." She went on to say, "We need to make teaching a high status profession."

Wendy Kopp agreed: "We need to invest in our teachers not only before they start but really every day and year thereafter." She expanded the point, connecting the crisis to increased poverty, which is linked to learning struggles and low graduation rates. Ms. Weingarten, too, said, "The equity issues right now in terms of poverty, in terms of families, are really intense." And the result, Ms. Kopp explained, requires a new concept of what education is.

For more on the issue of economic inequality, click here.

For a video of the session, click here.

With a nod to the TFA and ACE ACE Teaching Fellows programs, Ms. Kopp added, "If we get to a point where we have enough people in our country in positions of influence who know what you know after you've taught successfully in a low income community, we will finally start moving the needle against this problem...Good, grounded, deeply committed leadership is the key to the systemic problems."

In this context, Bishop Kicanas emphasized the need for Catholic schools, which provide "a moral grounding, academic rigor, a community ethic." Ms. Weingarten agreed. "I am quite saddened by the fact that we see the shuttering of so many Catholic schools...We have to find ways to bolster faith based schools."

Ending on a positive note, Ms. Kopp spoke of her optimism that change will occur in our education system--and then she issued a challenge to us: "There's an incredible opportunity for the folks who are concerned about parochial schools to say, how can we mobilize our constituents to ensure that our [whole] community has access to a better education?...Your commitment through ACE is extraordinary. We need that in so many forms in the faith community."

ACE and ND Athletics Team Up for the Local Community

on Monday, 03 October 2011.

A new collaboration between the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) and the Notre Dame Athletics Department is bringing a new experience to young people in the South Bend area, combining the excitement of Fighting Irish football and the development of life skills that can convey inspiration and success.

The new collaboration, called the "Irish Experience League" initiative, brings together ACE'sPlay Like a Champion Today ® educational program and the Youth and Community Programs office within Notre Dame Athletics.

The Irish Experience League—a youth flag football league for boys and girls in grades 5-8—launched on Sunday, Sept. 25, at two community locations: the Martin Luther King Center in the Westside neighborhood and Kelly Park in the Northeast neighborhood of South Bend. The free program will continue to take place on Sunday afternoons from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm. Registration is required, and the form can be downloaded here.

New York Life creates scholarships for at-risk children in Notre Dame ACE Academies

Written by William Schmitt on Thursday, 29 September 2011.

The University of Notre Dame last week recognized leaders of the Tucson General Office of New York Life Insurance Company as "champions for educational opportunity." New York Life's recent contribution of $100,000 through Arizona's corporate tax credit scholarship program will provide scholarships for more than 100 at-risk children to attend Notre Dame ACE Academy schools in the south-side Tucson community.

Dr. Christian Dallavis, director of the Notre Dame ACE Academies initiative, and Andrea Cisneros, assistant director of Notre Dame ACE Academies, presented a token of the University’s appreciation to Marc Braden, the Managing Partner of New York Life’s Tucson General Office, and Joe Casey (Notre Dame Class of ’79), a Tucson-area New York Life agent.

The Notre Dame ACE Academies leaders were joined in their statement of appreciation by the superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Tucson, Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, CCFM.NYL Plaque small

 In Arizona, insurance companies and C-corporations may receive a 100-percent tax credit when they contribute their state tax liability to certified scholarship granting organizations like the Catholic Tuition Support Organization (CTSO) of the Diocese of Tucson. New York Life’s contribution to CTSO provides opportunities for disadvantaged children of low-income families to attend high-quality schools, including two Notre Dame ACE Academies in Tucson.

“New York Life is pleased to invest in our local community, and to work with Notre Dame to strengthen educational opportunities in Tucson,” said Marc Braden, managing partner of New York Life’s Tucson General Office.

“This tax credit program has enabled an incredible partnership,” said Christian Dallavis, director of the Notre Dame ACE Academies initiative. “It allows a major national company like New York Life to invest in a community it serves while making it possible for the Notre Dame ACE Academies to put more at-risk kids on the path to college.”

The Arizona tax credit initiative was one of several education reform initiatives discussed Wednesday, September 28, by the Notre Dame Forum Panel, “The Conversation: Developing the Schools Our Children Deserve.”  The Most Rev. Gerald Kicanas, bishop of Tucson and a panel participant, said, "I think it’s wonderful that New York Life, a company that is literally in the business of risk management, is creating opportunities for at-risk children.  In a very real way, this contribution is at the heart of both their mission and ours."

New Anti-Bullying Resources Available for Grades 4-8

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 26 September 2011.

NOTRE DAME, INDIANA – Addressing bullying situations in the classroom can be challenging for teachers and administrators. Two new sets of materials—Peace2U and Peace Be With You—are now available to help teachers and students build leadership skills, reconcile past conflicts, understand and deal with stress, and work toward creating an improved environment in their school communities. Peace2U is geared toward public schools, while Peace Be With You is written for the Christian and Catholic school context.

Author Frank DiLallo, a licensed professional counselor with more than thirty years of experience, has conducted this unique program with hundreds of teachers and students in the Toledo area.

The Teacher Manuals contain research on the bullying dynamic and ways to address relational conflicts. The program empowers students with leadership skills, ways to recognize bullying situations in the classroom, insights for repairing classmate relationships, and the tools needed to understand and balance stress in their lives. The easy-to-use Student Workbooks complement in-class activities.

Both Peace2U and Peace Be With You Teacher Manuals and Student Workbooks are available from ACE Press at the University of Notre Dame. Copies may be ordered online from the press at or through .

15 Minute Retreat: Where God is Present

on Wednesday, 07 September 2011.

A resource to expand your awareness of God today

In a quiet place, read slowly through the following passages and poem. Pay attention to each word as you read. Which ones jump out at you? Turn them over in your mind. Let them sink into your heart. Don’t feel you have to understand everything or say anything. Simply breathe in these living words from our God.

Isaiah 43:1-2, 5Tree
[And God said,] “Don’t be afraid. I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. ..Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”

[Pause for silent reflection]

Psalm 16:11  [Lord,]You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

[Pause for silent reflection]

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry, The Peace of Wild Things

In your final minutes, close your eyes and focus on one or two words or phrases you’d like to carry with you into the rest of the day. Then whisper a prayer--of your own, or the one below--thanking God, whose other name is love, that God is always with you.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise,

St. Patrick



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