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From the Field: Noah Franske

on Thursday, 13 October 2011.

How would you answer this question? At its core, teaching is about _____. Fr. Tim Scully, CSC, co-founder of ACE answers the question this way: "Teaching is ultimately a sacrament of friendship." And Noah Franske, ACE STT second year teacher and our From the Field focus this week, agrees. "I don't think I ever realized how much I could care for another person," he says."You have to reach deep down to find that kind of a relationship, and teaching creates that experience."

The native Minnesotan is learning this valuable lesson in St. Petersburg, FL, where he teaches math at St. Petersburg Catholic High School. "I had so many great math teachers in high school," he says. "I really wanted to give back." He goes on, "Most of my math students have never had a math teacher anywhere near their age. Bringing energy, enthusiasm, and a true love for math to the classroom makes them realize that math really can be fun and hip. Bringing my faith and life experiences into the mix also provides them with a solid role model, something several of my students need."

True to the give-and-take of relationship, Franske also emphasizes what he has learned from his students. "I've learned incredible patience, gratitude, and humility through my students' struggles. I've learned that nothing in life should be taken for granted. And I'm thankful for every day I have to learn from my students." Teaching is, he says, "truly life-changing."

Noah Franske will graduate the ACE program in July.

Rudy Awards for High School Athletes Have Support from Play Like a Champion Today

on Wednesday, 12 October 2011.

News from Play Like a Champion and the Trusted Sports Foundation

Bend, OR – September 2011 – During the third year of the successful High School Football Rudy Awards more amazing stories will be told of the power of sports to develop moral strength. This 'feel good' program searches for nominees from around the nation, and honors them for their commitment to excellence, oftentimes in the face of personal challenges. The awards are based on the inspirational story of Daniel 'Rudy' Ruettiger, who overcame personal challenges with great moral strength and unrelenting persistence to make the Notre Dame Football Team. His real-life story is featured in the classic football film RUDY and serves as the original example of character, courage, commitment and contribution that this award is based on.

$25,000 in academic scholarships will be awarded by the Trusted Sports Foundation to 12 young football players based on the size of their heart rather than performance or statistics. The emphasis on personal growth through sports resonates with both Play Like a Champion Today® and the High School Football Rudy Awards. Play Like A Champion Today® encourages the development of young athletes whose "Rudy-esque" actions serve to motivate other young athletes to 'dream big and never give up'.

Since the program's launch in 2009, the awards have placed the spotlight on over 700 players and has generated over 5 million votes. Drew Bledsoe, former New England Patriots star and four-time Pro Bowl quarterback is the Chairman of the national Selection Committee that also includes Dallas Cowboys quarterback legend Troy Aikman and former New England Patriots linebacker, Tedy Bruschi, both three-time Super Bowl Champions. Other notable selection committee members include Leigh Anne Tuohy, mother of Baltimore Ravens player Michael Oher and inspirational figure of the film The Blind Side and Shaun Alexander, former Seattle Seahawks running back and NFL MVP.

Trusted Sports Founder John Ballantine likens the awards to their inspirational leader's famous journey. "Rudy always followed his dreams despite overwhelming challenges," said Ballantine. "Many of our nominees turn up and give everything to their team even when times are tough and it becomes painful to continue. Their commitment shows the emotional strength of a true winner. We're excited to partner with Play Like a Champion Today® to reassert sports as a tool for personal development and to highlight nominees as examples of how supportive teams, coaches, and programs can foster effective members of society."

"These awards reflect the powerful life lessons that we see young people learning from sports every day," said Kristin Sheehan, program director for Play Like a Champion Today® in the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) at the University of Notre Dame. "We celebrate not only the inspirational football players, but also the culture of integrity, perseverance, and moral leadership that is passed to these athletes by coaches and parents. The Rudy Awards help to nurture the bold vision that we associate with the story of Rudy and with Notre Dame's famous call to be a champion."

The Trusted Sports Foundation has granted $50,000 in college academic scholarships to high school football players. Twelve finalists will share $25,000 in academic scholarships, with the winner receiving a $7,500 scholarship. Anyone can nominate the 'Rudy' on their team at www.HighSchoolRudyAwards.com.

About Trusted Sports Foundation
Trusted Sports Foundation is a nonprofit organization focused on inspiring kids to thrive in life through sports. Our goal is to empower underserved youth to live up to their full potential through positive sports experiences that form active, healthy habits for a lifetime. Through our national inspirational youth sports awards programs, we reward perseverance, character and leadership with academic scholarships for athletes who inspire their teams, schools, and communities. Our Kids In The Game giving program connects donors with youth sports programs in need of support, creating more opportunities for low-income, underserved youth to play sports.

About Play Like A Champion Today
Play Like A Champion Today® is an innovative coach and parent education organization that is transforming the culture of youth sports. Based at the University of Notre Dame as part of its ACE initiative to strengthen K-12 education, Play Like A Champion Today® offers a child-centered, research-based approach to coaching and sport parenting.

For information: www.HighSchoolRudyAwards.com / www.TrustedSports.com
Video, 2010 Winner, Chance Anthony: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4iecGHTVRQ
Press Contact: Sandy Henderson

ACE's Personal Ties to Blue-Ribbon Schools

on Wednesday, 05 October 2011.

When the US Department of Education recently announced its roster of National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2011, members of the ACE community noticed a few familiar names.

Among the 256 public and 49 private schools across the country that received Blue Ribbon Awards this year, three outstanding Catholic schools had personal ties to ACE. In each case, educators from ACE Teaching Fellows or the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program serve or previously served on the faculty:

  • Christ the King Catholic School, Tampa, Fla. – Michael Zelenka and Andrew Shannon from MARLP
  • St. Paul's Catholic School, Jacksonville Beach, Fla. – Krissy Thompson and Stephanie Thomas from MARLP
  • St. Joseph School, South Bend, Ind. – Several teachers from STT and Melissa Greene from MARLP

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program annually honors public and private schools based on one of two criteria:

1) Schools whose students are high-performing; these are schools ranked among each state's highest performing schools as measured by their performance on state assessments or, in the case of private schools, the schools that score the highest performance level on nationally normed tests.

2) Schools with at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds that improve student performance to high levels as measured by the school's performance on state assessments or nationally normed tests.

ACE congratulates all the Blue Ribbon Award winners, with special celebration for the Catholic schools that constitute the vast majority of the winners in the private sector.

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.

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