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Catholic Education Report Explores Leadership, Innovation & Faith

Written by William Schmitt on Wednesday, 28 November 2012.

Success Stories Celebrating Children and Education Fill 2011-2012 Annual Report

Good news about the present and future of Catholic schools fills the pages of the 2011-2012 Annual Report from the Alliance for Catholic Education. That report, released today, is available online—the first fully digital version of an ACE annual report.

This fresh collection of compelling stories about ACE's activities explores successes in leadership formation, professional services, research-based innovation, and partnerships around the United States.

Faculty and staff have shared expertise in school governance, strategic planning, Latino enrollments, and parental choice, among other issue areas. Nearly 80 bishops have engaged in ACE-sponsored conferences on advocating for parental choice policies.

The report also offers highlights of the 2011-2012 academic year for numerous initiatives through which the Alliance for Catholic Education responds to the needs of dioceses—and to the call to serve children by sustaining, strengthening, and transforming Catholic schools.

During the year, ACE offered services in 74 archdioceses and dioceses. ACE teachers and principals impacted the lives of 38,000 students.

Supporters of Catholic schools will find a valuable resource in this update on ACE's growing list of activities. Paper copies of the 2011-2012 Annual Report are available by contacting communications specialist Bill Schmitt.

New Book Surveys Catholic School Principals for Insights, Answers

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 05 November 2012.

Authors from the Alliance for Catholic Education Identify Needs in Light of New Evangelization

A new book from the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) at the University of Notre Dame gives voice to the commitment and concerns of Catholic elementary school principals across the United States and presents recommendations central to the future of Catholic school leadership.

The book, Striving for Balance, Steadfast in Faith: The Notre Dame Study of U.S. Catholic Elementary School Principals, draws upon a survey of 1,685 principals, yielding a rare, comprehensive glimpse of their views on what they need to do their jobs better and how they describe the state of Catholic education today. They identify financial management, marketing, Catholic identity, enrollment management, and long-range planning as their schools' top five areas of need.

The authors—Rev. Ronald J. Nuzzi, senior director of ACE's Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program; Anthony C. Holter, ACE's director of program evaluation and research; and James M. Frabutt, a faculty member of the Remick Leadership Program—assess an enormous amount of data from the survey, find a lively faith among their respondents, and identify problem-solving options in the spirit of the New Evangelization.

"This unprecedented study will help to inform and deepen the national dialogue about the future of Catholic schools," said Rev. Nuzzi, who is a nationally known expert and speaker on Catholic education trends. "New ideas for the support of our school principals deserve to be part of the dialogue, and in this study the principals themselves offered recommendations worth considering—such as revising the position description of principal and helping to amplify principals' voices and expertise through a new national organization."

Besides a call for "more manageable and realistic position descriptions" and a group to advocate for Catholic schools at the national level, the book presents these two recommendations:

  1. "Develop a program of ongoing professional development and renewal for principals" that addresses their needs, both professional and personal.
  2. "Convene multiple groups of national and international stakeholders to advance the understanding of Catholic schools as instruments of the new evangelization."

Based on the data obtained, "the Church seems to have hired well, attracting mission-driven and loyal individuals to the overarching goals of Catholic education." But the study, which was conducted in 2010, finds that these principals embrace a unique combination of goals, including their schools' important role in proclaiming the Gospel, in the spirit of the New Evangelization and the Year of Faith. They also live daily with what has been called "the tyranny of the urgent," hungering for more support—emotional as well as financial.

The book, which follows up on an earlier ACE study of pastors' views of Catholic education, is published by Information Age Publishing and is available for purchase in hardcover or paperback at the publisher's website.

Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education collaborates with dioceses and school leaders nationwide to sustain, strengthen, and transform Catholic schools, with a special focus on under-resourced schools serving disadvantaged children. ACE forms faith-filled educators, offers an array of professional services, and cultivates innovative solutions to critical issues. The Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, established in 2002, forms tomorrow's Catholic school leaders.

In the Spotlight: Carl Loesch

on Friday, 12 October 2012.

Carl Loesch is one of seven children whose combined years in Catholic schools total more than 100. It's not hard to see how these schools have formed him. There's his deep commitment to the faith and to service. His strong academic training in math. Two Theology degrees from Notre Dame. And a career dedicated to Catholic education.

"I just wanted to give back," he says when explaining his decision to become a Catholic school teacher. And so he has. For nine years he taught and coached in Fort Wayne and then, at the invitation of Bishop D'Arcy, pursued a position in administration through the ACE Teaching Fellows and Remick Leadership programs. Today he serves as the highly respected principal of Marian High School in South Bend.

Of his experience in ACE, Carl points out that both programs prepared him not only academically, but spiritually and socially, too. "The emphasis on forming us as Catholic educators is exactly what we need to be prepared to educate and care for the precious souls entrusted to us. The emphasis on prayer and the sacraments as necessary for our ministry help sustain me in my daily work. Finally, the emphasis on community taught me to share my gifts with others and to be open to learning from others."

Carl Loesch is still giving back to the Catholic schools he loves, and it's clear the schools are still forming him, too. He recently shared this story about what he learned from a courageous transfer student with autism and the student body that accepted him: "On his first day at Marian, the student walked very nervously into the cafeteria and sat down at a table by himself. He began to eat his lunch, and then a beautiful thing happened. A couple young men came over and invited him to sit with them. From that point on, I knew he was going to be okay. This young man went on to serve the school as a manager for two varsity sports. I could barely hold back my tears of joy at the end of his senior year when I got to place a state runner-up medal around his neck for his support of a team in their run to state.

This courageous young man and our welcoming student body taught me how to see the good in others. As St. John Chrysostom said, 'What greater work is there than touching the minds and hearts of young people.' More often than not, they are the ones teaching me."

ACE "Missioning" Sends Forth Teachers and Leaders to Catholic Schools

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 31 July 2012.

Bishop McFadden's Thanks and Blessings for More than 200 Set to Serve

The Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) at Notre Dame capped its annual "ACE Summer" of formation programs and conferences with a "missioning" Mass on July 27, sending forth more than 200 teachers and leaders to Catholic schools across the United States.

The Most Rev. Joseph P. McFadden, bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg and a prominent voice on education within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, presided at the Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart to honor the "vocation" and "calling" of service in Catholic elementary and secondary schools.

"Your participation in the ACE program is a great blessing for the Church," he said in his homily. "As the chairman of the Bishops' Committee on Catholic Education, I thank you for your willingness to enter into this most important and essential work of the Church."

ACE in the News: The ACE Summer through a TV Lens

Written by William Schmitt on Thursday, 19 July 2012.

John Staud, ACE's Senior Director for Pastoral Formation and Administration, offered a fast-paced, wide-ranging introduction to the Alliance for Catholic Education on WNIT-TV's "Experience Michiana" show Wednesday, July 18. You can go to the archived video of the show and advance to the ACE segment about nine minutes into the show.

Just a reminder that "Experience Michiana" has hosted ACE and Institute for Educational Initiatives leaders a couple of other times in the past several weeks. ClarkPower, director of Play Like a Champion Today, talked about the Play Like a Champion hosted conference on character-building in sports. Karen Morris, who directs the IEI's program bolstering Advanced Placement science and math courses, talked about the recent STEM teaching conference.