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A Word of Thanks

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 22 November 2011.

ACE is a Eucharistic community, and we're mindful that "Eucharist" means "thanksgiving." The Thanksgiving holiday gives us a chance to pause and look back upon 2011 with deep gratitude to divine providence.

This was the year when we moved into our new home, enjoyed a weekend of memorable dedication events, launched Notre Dame's "Forum" series "reimagining" K-12 education, sent forth young teachers for service in classrooms for the eighteenth time, and welcomed a number of distinguished visitors.

From the Field: Adam Barajas

on Friday, 18 November 2011.

The powerful witness of ACE is not lost on Adam Barajas. As a high school student, he studied science under an ACE teacher. That experience not only set his course towards the ACE Teaching Fellows program but, he says, "it made me a better person."

Adam Barajas lives in Brownsville, Texas in an ACE community that refers to itself—true to Texas form—as "the biggest and best in ACE." The middle school math and science teacher describes why he joined ACE Teaching Fellows: "I was taught Chemistry and Physics by an ACE teacher in high school. His influence in my life reached far beyond the classroom and past my time in high school...When I was discerning God's plan for me after college, it seemed as though I was called to give back to the program that had done so much for me."

Indeed, Mr. Barajas is giving back. While he speaks of areas where he needs "a lot of improvement," he attests to how he is making a difference. "There is a poverty of depth, experience, and intellectual challenge at the school in which I teach. In seeing and addressing this issue, I feel I am making a difference. My students leave my class with more questions than they came in with. The ability to question and seek answers in a coherent manner is the best gift I can offer my students."

At the same time, Mr. Barajas attests to the gift ACE teaching has been to him. His spiritual and professional growth have made him a different person from when he started the program, such that he can say: "This past weekend I saw the sunset on the bay of South Padre Island [and] the reality that I am doing more than just service and that these kids are more than just my students finally sunk in. God is with the people of this foreign place and he is with me in my time here as well, sanctifying my service and making my broken talents whole."

Click here to learn more about the ACE Teaching Fellows program.

Notre Dame Forum: Law and Educational Innovation -- Panels Nov. 18

on Monday, 14 November 2011.

A day-long discussion of ideas for improving K-12 education will feature an array of legal experts, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, at the Notre Dame Law School on Friday, Nov. 18.

The symposium, titled "Educational Innovation and the Law" and sponsored by the Law School, is the latest event in the Notre Dame Forum series collectively called "Reimagining School."

The Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) and the Institute for Educational Initaitives (IEI) have been active in the planning of the Notre Dame Forum, which spans the 2011-2012 academic year. ACE and IEI faculty and staff are invited to attend the Nov. 18 discussions by two distinguished panels.

From the Field: Sylvia Rodriguez

on Friday, 11 November 2011.


As any person involved in Notre Dame ACE Academies can tell you, the schools' goals are twofold: College and Heaven. Notre Dame ACE Academies board member Sylvia Rodriguez highlights this with everyone she meets: "I tell them that we are all in this for our children, to make it a better world for them by preparing them for College and Heaven."

Sylvia Rodriguez is a walking advertisement for thsylvia rodriguez teasere value of Catholic schools. Not only is she a parish representative on the Notre Dame ACE Academies board; not only is she a Catholic school parent; Mrs. Rodriguez also heads up Madrinas y Padrinos, "a group of wonderful people who help recruit families to our schools who may not realize that it is possible for our children to attend these schools," she explains.

Says Notre Dame ACE Academies associate director Andie Cisneros, "Sylvia has done awesome things since she took over the position, recruiting new madrinas and padrinos and coordinating their efforts. They speak at masses at local parishes, CCD classes and parent meetings, and even stand outside grocery stores handing out flyers and talking to parents about the schools. She's totally committed and a force to be reckoned with in the best possible way."

"I love the Madrinas program," Mrs. Rodriguez says, "because it opens up many doors of opportunity for children and their families. When I am out giving literature about ACE schools to potential families and see the look on their faces when they hear that their children can attend because we offer tuition assistance...I feel I make a difference, especially when families show up and register at one of our schools."

The highlight for her in this work, she says, is what it offers children in terms of faith formation and the pursuit of higher education, so they can "go out and achieve their hearts' desires and become great people in society." Great people in society--like Sylvia Rodriguez!

Renewal of the Haitian Education System

on Thursday, 10 November 2011.

The University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), alongside international partners including Catholic Relief Services and the Congregation of Holy Cross, is playing a leading role in the renewal of the Haitian educational system.

ACE Consulting is supporting the rebuilding, revitalization and improved quality of primary and secondary Catholic schools throughout Haiti.

  • Renewal of Catholic education in Haiti. Under the leadership of Haiti’s Catholic bishops, in consultation with the Ministry of Education, and with support and partnership from Catholic Relief Services, ACE is coordinating a major Catholic Education Renewal Project. The project aims to improve the quality of and access to Catholic schools across the country.  ACE and CRS are facilitating a comprehensive assessment of the country’s estimated 2,400 Catholic schools. This diagnostic portrait will inform the development of action plans for raising quality, rebuilding schools, increasing access, strengthening governance, and expanding student services.
  • Teacher formation. ACE is supporting the Congregation of Holy Cross in developing a model teacher certification program that would provide rigorous formation for Haitian secondary school teachers utilizing international best practices and leveraging technology. A pilot program in cooperation with six Holy Cross schools is planned to launch in the coming months.
  • Rebuilding. Notre Dame and ACE have also supported the rebuilding of a major Holy Cross high school in Port-au-Prince, Basil Moreau School. Significant structural repairs have been completed on the primary school building, and construction is set to begin on a new secondary school complex.

To see more of ACE Consulting's collaboration with leaders in Haiti, please go to the Haiti photo gallery.

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