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Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program

Answering the Call to Lead

on Friday, 23 May 2014.

Matt DeBoer reflects on his path to RLP

As I was finishing up my undergraduate studies, I felt God calling me to do something “more” with my life and newly acquired skills and experiences. After much discernment and prayer, I eventually applied to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and was accepted and placed in the New Orleans community. I had grown to love the city through my post-Katrina volunteer efforts, and I knew that if I was placed in New Orleans, it was because God wanted me to be there. In August 2008, I began my journey as a Jesuit Volunteer at the Good Shepherd School (GSS), and I never would have imagined that I would still be there six years later.  Least of all, did I expect to find myself serving in the leadership position that I now hold - but if I have learned anything in my time here, it is that God works in mysterious ways!MattDeBoer

My first year at GSS was a wild ride, as I started as a teacher’s assistant and was teaching middle school religion full-time within only two weeks. By the end of the year, I had not only taught religion, but also middle school math and science, as well as kindergarten science. I was all over the place, but something in me loved every bit of it! The school went through a tumultuous change in administration and more than half the staff left at year’s end. On the principal’s last day of work, she pulled me aside and said. “Matt, I’m not sure if you’ve ever thought about it, but I think you’d make a great principal someday.”

As I began my second year of work, I found myself as a school leader that was and respected by elder colleagues and students alike. The new principal asked me to be a member of the administrative team and I have never looked back. After five years of teaching and various ventures into administration, I truly felt God was calling me into Catholic school leadership. I decided to apply to the Remick Leadership Program (RLP) after hearing about it from various participants and graduates working at Nativity Miguel model schools. Now having completed one summer of the program, I feel comfortable in my role as a school leader because RLP has complimented my experience at GSS by providing me with the skills, resources, and confidence to lead.  It has also provided me with an amazing network of Catholic school educators that I can reach out to or lean on at any given moment.

After finishing my first summer at Notre Dame in RLP, I came back to New Orleans with one week to prepare for the school year. Enrollment had greatly increased and half of the student body would be new students, while only two faculty members had more than a year of experience at the school. On top of these challenges, during the first week of school I was left as the veteran teacher and aspiring administrator, when our principal received the devastating news that her mother had passed away. While the stresses were great and the challenges were many, I embraced the challenge head on, and we made it through in one piece.

I am not sure I would have been able to handle all of the issues that arose with students, parents, and staff members without the first summer of preparation in RLP. Knowing that my classmates from RLP were going through similar struggles brought me strength that I in turn shared with my colleagues. The faith-centered community that we formed over the summer was a strong support then, and it became a strong spiritual support when I began work a few weeks after returning. In fact, my colleagues, students, and I have all embraced the oft quoted scripture that I learned to love through RLP last summer as our motto for this school year: “I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Right now, at both GSS and in RLP, I feel that I am exactly where God is calling me to be at this stage in my vocational journey as a Catholic school educator and administrator.

Supporting Transformational Leaders and World-Builders

on Wednesday, 14 May 2014.

ACE Receives Additional Gift from Remicks

Adding to what had already amounted to the largest and most significant set of gifts to support the University of Notre Dame’s efforts to strengthen and transform Catholic K-12 education, Mary Ann and Jack Remick, of Rochester, Minnesota, have made an additional $10 million leadership gift to the University’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE).

This most recent gift will more than double the endowment of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, the nation’s preeminent formation program to shape a generation of faith-filled and talented principals for America’s Catholic schools. The gift also ensures that ACE can attract the nation’s top talent to successfully engage the challenges that face contemporary Catholic schools, fully integrating executive management and instructional leadership, imbued with the spirit of the Gospel.

remicks portrait 300“This wonderfully generous gesture from Mary Ann and Jack adds to the already remarkable foundation that Notre Dame has built to sustain, strengthen and transform Catholic schools,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “In thanking Mary Ann and Jack for this gift, I am deeply mindful of Pope Francis’ expression of gratitude to the University Trustees on our recent visit to Rome, for ‘the commitment which Notre Dame has shown over the years to supporting and strengthening Catholic elementary and secondary education throughout the United States.’ ”

“Transformational school leaders are world-builders, architects of the soul who bring to life for the members of their Catholic school communities a compelling vision of the core values and goals of a Catholic education,” said Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., director of the Institute for Educational Initiatives and founder of ACE. “Though the challenges faced by Catholic schools have changed rather dramatically in the current American context, the core values and goals remain ever the same: to invite our students to an encounter with the living person of Jesus Christ while at the same time engendering a deep love of learning.”

Jack Remick earned his bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame in 1959, and his support of the University began almost immediately after graduation. While at the same time engaged early in his career with IBM, Jack became a founding partner of the Fastenal Co., an exceptionally successful construction supply and services company based in Winona, Minnesota.

Jack currently serves as chair of Notre Dame’s College of Engineering Advisory Council. Among the many gifts he has made to his alma mater is Stinson-Remick Hall, the state-of-the-art engineering building near the entrance to Notre Dame’s campus.

Mary Ann Remick earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the College of Saint Teresa, whose campus is now part of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona. After a successful career in nursing, Mary Ann became increasingly involved in the Catholic schools in Rochester and ultimately joined the board of trustees of St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in 2004. Combining her passion for quality education and increased access to under-served children, Mary Ann created an endowment that enabled the founding of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program in 2008.

She recently stated: “It has been a distinct privilege for Jack and me to share in the work of those in the Alliance for Catholic Education and to assist in the formation of leaders for Catholic schools throughout the country. In our view, there is nothing more essential to the survival and success of a Catholic school.”

Four years later, Mary Ann made possible a new home for the Alliance for Catholic Education, providing the resources for the renovation of the historic Institute for Educational Initiatives Building, including the very popular Remick Commons, at the heart of campus adjacent to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Grotto and the Main Building. To mark and celebrate the Remicks’ most recent gift, the University announced the renaming of this landmark Sorin-era building as “Visitation Hall,” in honor of the encounter between two women whereupon the church was born.

Jack and Mary Ann are the parents of five children, three of whom are Notre Dame graduates.

The Alliance for Catholic Education has been serving under-served Catholic schools for the past 20 years in communities across the United States and abroad. Each year, the mission of ACE impacts the lives of several hundred thousand children by preparing high-talented, faith-filled teachers, principals and administrative leaders while offering an array of professional services to strengthen and transform Catholic schools. ACE works to ensure that children in these communities, many of them from low-income families in high-poverty areas, have access to the highest quality Catholic education. Mary Ann currently serves as a member of the ACE Advisory Board.

Pierre-Antoine to Lead Notre Dame ACE Academies

on Wednesday, 12 March 2014.

Rodney Pierre-Antoine, current principal of St. Jarlath Catholic School in the Diocese of Oakland, will join the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) as director of the Notre Dame ACE Academies, effective July 1, 2014.

In this role, Pierre-Antoine will work closely with principals and teachers in Notre Dame ACE Academies partner schools in the Dioceses of Tucson and St. Petersburg to provide a Catholic education of the highest quality to as many children as possible. The director of the Notre Dame ACE Academies leads regional boards and supports school leaders in their efforts to establish high-performing, transformational school cultures rooted in the Catholic tradition. Pierre-Antoine will also lead the development of a strategy for replicating the Notre Dame ACE Academies model in other communities so that many tens of thousands more children have the opportunity to attend excellent Catholic schools.

Christian Dallavis, Ph.D., ACE’s senior director for leadership programs and founding director of the Notre Dame ACE Academies said he was thrilled that Pierre-Antoine had agreed to take on this leadership role and that his experience as a veteran Catholic school principal will be especially helpful to the future of the initiative.


"Rodney is among the most passionate, thoughtful, faithful, and fun people I know, and he brings a deep knowledge of how kids learn, how teachers grow, and how great schools work,” Dallavis said in announcing the appointment.

Dallavis added, "In the Notre Dame ACE Academies, we have found that school success is driven by leaders who will do whatever it takes to ensure that every child succeeds. Rodney absolutely epitomizes this 'whatever-it-takes' mindset, which we believe is essential to leading the transformational, breakthrough schools our kids deserve."

Pierre-Antoine began his career in education as a Teach for America corps member in urban Oakland public schools, before earning his M.A. in educational administration from Notre Dame in ACE’s Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program. He has held leadership roles in urban Catholic schools since 2005, serving as dean of students at St. Martin de Porres Catholic School in Oakland and as principal at St. Felicitas Catholic School in San Leandro, CA. He became principal at St. Jarlath in 2011, and the school has seen enrollment growth of 80% since then.

“I am thrilled about the opportunity to cement the Notre Dame ACE Academies pillars of educational excellence, the experience of community in Christ, and faith formation in the Catholic tradition in our existing schools,” Pierre-Antoine said of his appointment. “I also welcome the prospect of expanding this wonderful initiative to diocesan communities who are ready to embrace this innovative model for Catholic education.”

As a faculty member in Notre Dame's Institute for Educational Initiatives, Pierre-Antoine will also teach in the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program and will be involved in developing the new Center For Transformational Educational Leadership that ACE is establishing.

Rodney’s wife, Jocelyn, is also a graduate of the Remick Leadership Program, and will join the ACE team in the summer as a member of Remick’s national faculty. Rodney and Jocelyn will continue to live in the Bay Area for the next year. 

There's Probably an App for That

on Monday, 27 January 2014.


When I was asked to write a short essay on why Catholic schools are important in 2014, I, like any good educator, decided to cheat.  I asked Notre Dame Catholic School’s 8th Graders to do it for me.  I told them that a list of reasons was due the next day (“No, you don’t have to write in complete sentences this time (AND ONLY THIS TIME!); yes, it will be a grade…”).

Now, I know our kids.  They are faith-filled, joyful, kind, respectful, energetic, and very bright … but they’re teenagers (AHHHH!).  I didn’t know what to expect, though I figured soccer and basketball might be prominent among their responses.

They weren’t.


When I was growing up, parents worried about things like MTV and AOL Instant Messenger.  Those things are ancient history.  Between iPods, iPads, and iPhones, the very nature of identity – of “I” – has changed.  Facebook has co-opted the idea “friend.”  Twitter invites us to “follow.”  We shut out the real world with our headphones and bury ourselves in user-friendly, intuitive interfaces.

Such, at least, is what we “adults” grumble about (“Well, sonny, when I was your age…”).  The Church, however, is doing something quite different.  The Pope Tweets!  Our own Bishop Melczek is on YouTube (if you don’t believe me, Google it)!

But what does this have to do with why Catholic schools are so important today?  Why am I not writing about pre-marital sex and crime and gangs and the economy and terrorism and poverty and empty pews…?  On the other hand, why am I not talking about high standardized test passing rates and college matriculation and rigor and discipline and innovation?

Notre Dame Catholic Church and School Logo

Notre Dame’s 14 year olds (“AHHHH!  Teenagers!  Run!”), given complete freedom to talk about what is important to them, focused on these themes:  Faith, Family, Vocations, Morals, Service, Caring, Gratitude, Learning, Connectedness, and Future.

We don’t give our young people nearly enough credit.  They are more than aware of all the struggles and troubles in the world.  They know that something isn’t right.  They know that there is more out there.  There is a thirst for love and joy and connectedness.  There is an energy and a vibrancy and a vitality.  There is an honest innocence.  There is a yearning for Truth (note the capital “T”).

Our young people are telling us exactly what they need and value, and it happens to be the Gospel.  Today’s youth – the youth with iPhones and headphones and Facebook and Twitter (and maybe even the youth with intentionally messy hair, though I’m not sure about that) – are hungry for the Word of God, for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and for life-giving relationships with one another.

It’s time for us adults to plug-in, log-on, and get connected – or, dare I say, reconnected.  Catholic schools are important in 2014 not because there are troubles all around us.  Catholic schools are important in 2014 because there is hope all around us, and hope does not disappoint.

Benjamin Devin John Potts, Ed.M., is the Principal of Notre Dame Catholic School in the Diocese of Gary, Indiana. He is also a member of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program's eleventh cohort. For more information on the Remick Leadership Program, please click here.

Notre Dame Catholic School is a ministry of the Notre Dame Catholic Community that fosters learning through an unsurpassed faith-based education and prepares young people for extraordinary lives. For more information on Notre Dame Catholic School, please click here

Dallavis Appointed to Direct ACE’s Initiatives for Catholic School Leadership

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 13 August 2013.

Broad Experience Will Drive Advances in Formation and Transformation

Dr. Christian Dallavis has been appointed to the new position of Senior Director of Leadership Programs, for the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE).

Dallavis, who has directed the Notre Dame ACE Academies initiative since its inception in 2010, will assume leadership of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program (RLP) and a new Center for Transformative Educational Leadership (CTEL). He will also continue to oversee the ongoing development of the Notre Dame ACE Academies, a program that has recently published important data about its expanding impact.

“Christian has a compelling vision to forge deeper connections among these related programs,” said Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., co-founder of ACE and director of the Institute for Educational Initiatives at Notre Dame. “During more than a decade of service with ACE, Christian has contributed in so many ways to our growing initiatives.”

Dallavis welcomes this opportunity: “Since joining ACE as a teacher in 1997, I have discovered that my vocation is to play a role in providing a Catholic education of the highest quality to as many students as possible. I am excited about this opportunity to contribute to the transformation of schools through leadership formation, and I believe that combining the efforts of the Remick Leadership Program, ND ACE Academies, and the new Center for Transformational Educational Leadership will result in powerful synergies for the good of our mission.”

Dallavis’ ACE experience began in the fourth cohort of the ACE teacher formation program, during which he served as a middle and high school teacher in Biloxi, Miss. After earning his M.A. degree, he spent a year teaching with the Congregation of Holy Cross in Bangladesh and then returned to ACE as a member of the pastoral team for the formation program, now called ACE Teaching Fellows.

Doctoral studies in English and Education at the University of Michigan followed, and he then returned to Notre Dame to teach and supervise ACE formation program participants. He was named director of the Notre Dame ACE Academies when the initiative was established in 2010. In this role, Dallavis works closely with diocesan school superintendents and principals to lead transformations of at-risk schools into communities of growth and academic progress.

He will succeed Rev. Ronald Nuzzi, Ph.D., who has served as Senior Director of the Remick Leadership Program, forming principals and other leaders for Catholic schools since its founding in 2002. Dallavis will also oversee the launch and initiatives of ACE’s Center for Transformative Educational Leadership, which will equip school leaders with the skills they need to transform school culture and improve student learning.

Father Scully, in announcing the appointment of Dallavis, offered special thanks to Father Nuzzi for his role in the growth of the Remick Leadership Program. “His passion for Catholic schools is unsurpassed, and we are fortunate indeed to have him directing his energies to ACE’s Renewing Identity Strengthening Evangelization (RISE) initiative.” Father Nuzzi will lead the new ACE RISE program to make a signature contribution to the Catholic character of schools across the nation.