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Sen. Donnelly Encourages Graduates to Serve Students through Strong Education

Written by William Schmitt on Thursday, 18 July 2013.

Commencement Address to ACE Teachers Highlights Responsibility, Potential

“Fighting for our Children’s Future,” the watchword emblazoned on the bus for ACE’s upcoming National Tour to celebrate Catholic schools, accentuates the call U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly issued recently to graduates at the 2013 ACE Commencement exercises.

Donnelly, a Notre Dame alumnus who represents Indiana in the U.S. Senate, addressed the 111 master’s degree recipients as their Commencement speaker, as a fellow advocate among the Fighting Irish, and as a policy-maker who has seen the high stakes in educating today’s young people.

“There’s no graduate program more important than what you have just finished,” said Donnelly at the July 13 event on campus. “This is the future of our country and our world that you’re going to be working with. You will be the face of Notre Dame, the face of our Church, the face of Jesus Christ, to people in some of the toughest areas we have in our country.”

He continued, “As principals and as teachers, part of being Fighting Irish is that you will fight for each child…. You will fight for an excellent education so that they have a chance.” Among many inner-city youths trapped in lives of turmoil and violence, a common thread is their disconnection from education.

“You provide hope, you provide [a] future, for many of these people,” Donnelly told the 85 graduates of the ACE Teaching Fellows program and the 26 graduates of ACE’s Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program. “You are the face of what they can achieve.”

The graduates and their families, convened in the Leighton Concert Hall of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, had joined ACE faculty and staff in welcoming Donnelly after ACE founder Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., introduced the first-term U.S. Senator as “a tireless advocate for justice” and “a son of Notre Dame whose life and work stand as a powerful witness to the transforming power of education.”

Donnelly’s remarks invoked the graduates’ service to the Church, reflecting the “love and compassion” that Jesus taught, plus wise discernment between right and wrong. He also invoked service to the United States—“making our nation a stronger, better place.” School teachers and leaders in under-served areas are crucial in giving students a chance for success, he said, “so no pressure on any of you—but the future of our country is on your shoulders.”

Such a responsibility also brings satisfaction, especially from the students one serves, the Senator reminded his audience: There may be more glamorous jobs than teacher or principal, but nothing can beat “the reward you’ll get at the end of the day when these young people come up and say, you’ve changed my life.”

Following the ceremony, in response to questions, Senator Donnelly called himself “very fortunate” to be a product of Catholic grade school and Catholic high school. Catholic schools teach values and give a great education, he said, and they combine with the country’s public school system “to make sure every child has a chance” to be part of the range of educational opportunity.

We do have to fight together for our children’s future, Donnelly agreed. “So much of the challenges we face as a country—those challenges can be met if we’re able to get every child educated, have every child graduate from high school, have a chance for every child to gain the skills necessary to have a good job and great opportunity. So everything we aspire to as a country is directly related to how well we educate our people.”

Where does ACE fit into this effort? “One of the distinctive roles for ACE and Notre Dame is to be a backbone of the Catholic education system,” said Donnelly in response to the question. “When you look at this graduating class, they are going forth throughout not only our country but the whole world, in both teaching and administration…. As Catholic education continues on into the future, I think you will see the University of Notre Dame and the ACE program become an even more critical part of its future success.”

Catholic School Teachers and Leaders Prepare for Graduation at Notre Dame

Written by William Schmitt on Thursday, 11 July 2013.

Senator Joe Donnelly Will Deliver Commencement Address

Web 2011-ACE-Commencement-1

The University of Notre Dame will advance its role as the nation’s leading provider of Catholic school leaders on Saturday, July 13, when more than 110 graduates from the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) receive master’s degrees at the 2013 ACE Commencement exercises.

The Commencement, to be held in the Leighton Concert Hall of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, is an important milestone for the teachers, principals, and leaders of the ACE ACE Teaching Fellows and the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Programs who have spent the last two and three years respectively living out ACE’s mission to sustain, strengthen and transform Catholic schools while completing their coursework within ACE’s innovative instructional models.

Master of Education (M. Ed.) degrees will be conferred upon 85 graduates within the 18th cohort of ACE Teaching Fellows, which sends forth young teachers to serve in under-resourced Catholic schools in 26 dioceses across the country. The Remick Leadership Program, an initiative that prepares Catholic school educators for roles as principals and other leadership roles in Catholic schools, will award 26 graduates in cohort 10 with Master of Arts degrees in educational administration.

The keynote speaker for this year’s exercises will be Senator Joe Donnelly, United States Senator of Indiana and Notre Dame alumnus.

Representing the University of Notre Dame will be Christine Maziar, Ph.D., who is Vice President, Senior Associate Provost, and Acting Dean of the Graduate School. Also addressing the group of graduates, parents, and friends of the Alliance for Catholic Education will be ACE’s founder, Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., director of the Institute for Educational Initiatives at the University of Notre Dame.

The Commencement ceremonies, a ticketed event scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m., will also feature the presentation of awards for distinguished service in support of Catholic schools. The Michael Pressley Award for Excellence in Catholic Education and the Michael Pressley Award for a Promising Scholar in the Education Field annually go to outstanding ACE graduates who have continued their careers enhancing ACE’s mission.

The Pressley awards are named for the prodigious and world-renowned scholar Michael Pressley, who served as the inaugural academic director of ACE’s teacher preparation program.

At the Commencement luncheon, Father Scully will present the Maureen T. Hallinan Award for Excellence in Catholic Education to Katie Baal, a graduate from the first cohort of ACE teachers, who assembled at the initiative’s founding almost 20 years ago. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies at Loyola University Chicago and pursued a distinguished career as a science teacher and administrator in Jesuit and public education. Dr. Baal has been principal of Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Ill., since 2011.

ACE presents the Hallinan Award for Excellence in Catholic Education in honor of Dr. Maureen Hallinan, the founding director of the Institute for Educational Initiatives, a world-renowned scholar and deeply beloved colleague who continues to inspire with her love of learning and truth. The annual award is bestowed in her honor upon an ACE graduate whose life and work reflect Dr. Hallinan's lifetime of service to the Gospel through the field of Catholic education.

The public events of ACE’s Commencement day will conclude with a Mass in Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart at 6:30 pm.

Watch the live stream at

Pressley Awards Go to Distinguished ACE Alumni Serving Catholic Education

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 08 July 2013.

The ACE Commencement exercises scheduled for Saturday, July 13, 2013, will confer master’s degrees upon participants in ACE Teaching Fellows and the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, but the event also honors graduates of those programs who have continued their careers with excellence in the spirit of the ACE pillars of education, community, and spirituality.

Awards this year will go to three leaders who have played influential roles that support Catholic schooling.

The annual Michael Pressley Award for Excellence in Catholic Education will be presented to two past graduates of ACE formation programs: Jessica Gray Werner, Ph.D., who graduated in 2003 in the eighth cohort of ACE Teaching Fellows; and Michael Zelenka, who also was in “ACE 8” and also in the sixth cohort of the Remick Leadership Program, graduating in 2007.

David Yeager, Ph.D., who graduated from ACE Teaching Fellows in 2006 and is now assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, will receive the Michael Pressley Award for a Promising Scholar in the Education Field.

The three Pressley Awards are named for the prodigious and world-renowned scholar Michael Pressley who served as the inaugural academic director of ACE’s teacher preparation program.

Here is more information about the recipients:


Jessica served students in Jackson, Miss., as a teacher for three years during and after ACE. Then she began working with the Daughters of Charity, supporting their efforts to strengthen Catholic educational ministry in Ethiopia and Kenya, and later became director of the Vincentian Lay Missionaries. This work entails providing spiritual formation for the current volunteers in the Daughters of Charity programs in Africa.

Meanwhile, Jessica has also earned a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, with a dissertation focused on principal and teacher training in Uganda, and she teaches education as an adjunct professor at the College of Saint Scholastica. A nominator calls her “a stellar example of an ACE graduate whose life has been transformed by Catholic education and social justice.” Jessica demonstrates a passionate belief in “the power of education” to change lives and “the unique gifts that the Catholic Church can offer” to transform structures and reform education.


Michael has continued to pursue his vocation in Catholic education as an educator in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he was assigned in the ACE 8 cohort. He now serves as principal at Incarnation Catholic School, which is also an ACE Teaching Fellows site. One of his nominators states, “We need more principals like him helping to form our teachers,” and he adds that Michael has “distinguished himself as a young and vibrant leader of Catholic schools, committed to excellence in every respect.”

In addition to his outstanding work as principal, Michael plays a variety of diocesan leadership roles and stays engaged with other Alliance for Catholic Education initiatives. He has implemented several projects at the school and diocesan level, published some of his work, and presented at national conferences. “He is an excellent example of the next generation of leaders we are aiming to prepare, support, and celebrate,” nominators affirm.


David’s nationally respected research in the fields of adolescent development and social psychology led him recently to the role of co-organizer and program chair for a special White House conference titled “Excellence in Education: The Importance of Academic Mindsets.” As reported recently for ACE by Andrew Hoyt, scholars from around the country gathered at the May conference to discuss new insights emerging from the work of David and collaborators at Stanford University. New findings suggest that students’ mindsets—how schools look and feel to these students—can affect whether they sustain motivation in the face of adversity. David and others have designed activities that redirect students’ mindsets and can dramatically reduce achievement gaps in some cases.

With a Ph.D. in developmental and psychological science from Stanford University, David has pursued studies yielding numerous journal publications, research grants, conference presentations, and other honors. During his studies in the ACE Teaching Fellows program, he taught language arts and computers--and coached basketball--at a Catholic school in Tulsa, Okla.

Faith-Filled Teachers' Journeys--Before and After Formation

Written by William Schmitt on Thursday, 06 June 2013.

As Another ACE Summer Begins, Time to See How Lives are Shaped

Every participant in ACE's formation initiatives has a story of faith and enthusiasm to tell. Recent references to the Alliance for Catholic Education in an array of media offer an up-close look at people who are passionate about Catholic schools.

Here's a quick tour of some "before" and "after" snapshots of lives, before or after the ACE experience. The "ACE Summer" of 2013 is just beginning, so these stories are just a few of the additional journeys that will bring inspiration to students, schools, and others nationwide.

· Allyn Doyle has graduated from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH. She's an excellent scholar-athlete who will pursue a master's degree as part of the ACE Teaching Fellows program for formation of Catholic school teachers.

· Across the Atlantic Ocean, two Irish graduates of St. Patrick's College in Dublin—Ciara O'Brien and Hannah Snowe—are also among the extraordinary applicants selected to join the 20th cohort of aspiring educators in ACE Teaching Fellows.

· Jamie Tadrzynski, a dedicated teacher whose zeal for service most recently placed her at a Navajo Nation Reservation as a Mercy Volunteer Corps Missioner, is headed to Notre Dame as an ACE Teaching Fellow, and you can see her recently posted announcement about her blog.

· Rev. Timothy Klosterman, a young priest based in Los Angeles, recently wrote about his own journey and the fact that he has been accepted in ACE's Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, which forms future leaders for Catholic schools. For his story, see the second article in this package from the Los Angeles archdiocesan newspaper.

· Two newly ordained priests—Rev. Andrew Nelson and Rev. Luke Marquard—offer inspiring "after-ACE" stories; they are alumni of the 7th and 12th cohorts of ACE Teaching Fellows, respectively.

· Jared Dees is an ACE graduate who has continued to follow his passion for teaching and has published a book, 31 Days to Becoming a Better Religious Educator. He is interviewed by blogger Marc Cardaronella. Jared, too, is a blogger about faith-filled education.

Summer Conferences Promote Excellence, Hope for Catholic Schools

Written by William Schmitt on Friday, 26 April 2013.

Educational Leaders Invited to Campus for Focused Conversations, Insights

Hundreds of educators and school leaders eager to enhance the future of Catholic schools will attend a unique collection of summertime conferences hosted annually by the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE).

The June and July conferences, some of which are currently accepting registrants, are part of ACE’s mission to sustain, strengthen, and transform Catholic schools. They are a growing component of the busy summers when ACE conducts the majority of its on-campus academic programming and graduate-level classes with the hope of inspiring the next generation of Catholic school teachers and leaders.

Preparation of outstanding college graduates to teach in Catholic schools is the organization’s best-known activity, now welcoming its 20th cohort of aspiring educators as ACE prepares a major celebration of the nation’s Catholic schools to mark its 20th anniversary.

The conferences are hosted by various ACE units that have grown in recent years to respond to particular issues and needs. Those interested in attending or learning more can visit these conferences’ respective web pages:

ACE Teaching Fellows Annual Conference (June 11-14). Participants in the Melody Family ACE Teaching Fellowship program convene to assess and catalyze their growth as master teachers, educational leaders, and generators of problem-solving research. Several benefactor-supported fellowships support highly promising educators who wish to continue their careers in Catholic classrooms while pursuing advanced knowledge and skills. Fellows cultivate these leadership assets along with their mentors during the conference.

Advocates for Parental Choice Symposium (June 14-19). This intensive formation experience gives participants a first-hand experience of people and places on the cutting edge in implementing school choice policies. Catholic school supporters will receive skills, insights, and working relationships to equip them as advocates in the parental choice movement. Major speakers on- and off-campus will increase these future leaders’ understanding of the social, legal, political, pedagogical, and moral dimensions of parental choice.

Play Like a Champion Today ® Sports Leadership Conference (June 21-23). This annual conference, titled “Character Education through Sports Leadership” for 2013, emphasizes developing the whole person through sports. Guest speakers offer professional development for coaches and athletic administrators at both the youth and high school levels. Hosted by ACE’s Play Like a Champion Today ® experts in sports as ministry, the conference gathers representatives of parochial leagues around the country to network and share best practices. Register for the Sports Leadership Conference.

Equitable Services Institute (June 23-28). Students in Catholic schools across the country are not getting federally funded services to which they’re entitled; this institute assists diocesan superintendents, principals, and other educational leaders to address this problem. Attendees will receive updated information about complex federal funding policies plus practical roadmaps for the process of consultations by which educators obtain equitable shares for their students from Title 1, Title 2, and Title 3 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Information and registration are available online.

Principals Academy (June 24-28). A four-day enrichment experience for Catholic school principals, entitled “Fueling the Fire of Leadership in Catholic Schools” for 2013, will engage expert faculty and practitioners as they develop an action plan to increase motivational practices for instruction, enrollment, and school identity. Principals will explore tangible, evidence-based strategies to increase teacher motivation and self-efficacy, improve supervision processes, and encourage teacher self-evaluation to improve the professional learning environment of schools. Register for this academy hosted by ACE Consulting.

Latino Enrollment Institute (June 25-28). The Catholic School Advantage campaign will invite principals from around the country to discuss strategic possibilities and pursue practical strategies to increase enrollment, particularly among Latino children, in Catholic schools.

Superintendents Strategic Leadership Conference (July 9-12). ACE Consulting will host its annual conference for diocesan schools superintendents, providing expert speakers and facilitating in-depth conversations to explore key issues faced by the invited school leaders.

School Pastors Institute (July 9-12). Pastors whose parishes include schools are invited to this annual institute to learn to manage and leverage better the distinctive relationship between a parish and its school. The Institute develops many skills and perspectives that a pastor will need in overseeing a parish school,its people, and its finances. Insights presented will support pastors’ reflections on the value of Catholic schools to parishioners and to the Church’s future.

Mary Ann Remick Leadership Conference (July 12). This conference, a capstone event for those earning their master’s degrees in educational administration through the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, is a unique and informal venue for South Bend-area educators to discuss current research with ACE leaders and experts from across the country. The graduate students preparing to serve as principals present the action research they have conducted, and local visitors attending free-of-charge exchange ideas on school challenges and solutions.

ACE Summer Forum (July 12-14). The ACE Summer Forum is a professional development opportunity for Catholic school supporters and ACE graduates, focusing on urgent needs in Catholic schools and how aadvocates can address them. This summer, Forum participants will discuss raising local awareness for Catholic schools and connecting local initiatives to the broader ACE movement.

ACE 19 Parent Retreat (July 24-26). Parents whose sons or daughters have just finished their first year in ACE Teaching Fellows often have many questions about these first-year teachers’ experiences. ACE Advocates hosts a special retreat for these parents at Notre Dame to get their questions answered and to see the broader context of the journey their ACE teachers are taking. The retreat also allows these parents of the ACE 19 cohort to hear presentations, worship together, and swap stories.