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ACE Graduate Kevin Kijewski Named Superintendent

Written by Eric Prister on Wednesday, 11 March 2015.

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Kevin Kijewski’s journey to becoming superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Denver has been anything but straightforward. From high school teacher in Denver as part of ACE Teaching Fellows, to law school, to a term as Dean of Business Administration at a small college in Michigan before serving as associate superintendent in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and finally back to Denver, his path has been roundabout. His mission for Catholic schools in Denver, however, is as direct as possible.“I want to create a model here in Denver that’s going to make Catholic schools sustainable, make them grow, and predominantly, help kids get to heaven.”

Kijewski is the seventh graduate of one of the Alliance for Catholic Education’s (ACE) formation programs to serve as superintendent of schools for an (arch)diocese, and he said his emphasis as superintendent, a post he begins full-time on July 1, will focus on three key goals.

“It’s all about growth, innovation, and leadership,” he said. “That’s what we have to do.”

In order to fulfill these goals, Kijewski said he knows he needs strong leaders in his schools. These leaders need to have a growth mindset, while also making sure schools do not lose any of their Catholic identity.

“With Catholic schools leaders, I’m looking for a few things,” he said. “First, someone who is definitely Catholic, able to evangelize and live out his or her faith. Second, someone with very rigorous academic goals, not only for the actual students in the classroom, but someone who is able to facilitate academic goal-setting with his or her staff. In short, I look for someone who is faith-filled, supports academic rigor, and that has solid preparation.”

Catholic identity is something Kijewski takes very seriously, and he said he wants to make sure that the schools in Denver remain on being Catholic schools. “We’re Catholic for a reason, and we have to be very proud of that,” he said. “We should not attempt to hide it. Being Catholic doesn’t mean that we have to just talk about being a good secular human, or talking about morals, but really trying to engage in the New Evangelization for those who are already Catholic. And for those who are not Catholic, it means showing them exactly what the Church is about and to welcome them and show them the rich, intellectual tradition of the Catholic faith.

Kijewski said accomplishing another of his three goals—growth—is tied together closely with ministering to the Latino population in Denver, who make up a large section of the Catholic population but not of those enrolled in Catholic schools. “When you take a look at Catholic school enrollment for Latinos, it’s relatively low and needs to go way up,” he said. “It’s not just because it’s the future of our Church. It’s a civil rights issue. We have to figure out ways to be more hospitable and welcoming, but also find ways of fitting into their culture.“If we’re able to appropriately serve—both academically and spiritually—the Latino community, we’re going to be able to increase the sustainability and viability of our Catholic schools. It’s a win-win proposition.”

Kijewski said that all his efforts, and the efforts of those who work in Catholic schools, should be rooted in one core belief.“Fundamentally, a Catholic school is a way to get kids to heaven; it creates saints for this life and the next,” he said.

Read more about Kevin's appointment on the Archdiocese of Denver website.

Photo credit: Julie Filby, Denver Catholic

In the Spotlight: Brothers and Sisters of the 21st Century

on Friday, 14 June 2013.

DanRanschaertTeaserSummers for Dan Ranschaert and his classmates in the ACE Teaching Fellows program are packed with classes, Masses, and community life on Notre Dame's campus. During the rest of the year, as this New York Times article reveals, their dedication takes a different form.

In the Spotlight: Greg O'Donnell and the Transforming Power of Education

on Thursday, 02 May 2013.

As an undergrad at the University of Notre Dame, Greg O'Donnell got his first taste of working with children through a community ed program that became "one of the most impactful experiences of my collegiate career." Among other things, the program exposed him to the power of education to transform children's lives. He signed up for ACE and set his mind toward becoming an educator.

After two years of teaching social studies, the newly minted master's recipient considered next steps and decided, he says, "that if this was to be my vocation, I would need to gain a more diverse experience teaching in different settings." Greg signed up for ChACE, moving to Santiago, Chile where he taught, improved his Spanish, and obtained a certificate in teaching English as New Language.

Greg speaks movingly about what he learned through ACE and ChACE. "First, trust that God will take care of you. Many times a new experience can be completely terrifying. For me, both teaching and living abroad were such experiences[...] It wasn't until I surrendered myself to God's will that I was actually able to find the strength to overcome my fears and learn how to cope with my new environments. Every time I reflect on this, I recall one of my favorite sayings, 'God doesn't call the qualified, but qualifies the called.'"

The second lesson Greg learned was, "Relax and don't rush everything. And above all, value personal relationships." He explains: "The culture in South America is such that most people approach situations from a completely different perspective [than North Americans]. While often my instinct was to finish a task as quickly as possible, they generally approached tasks slowly, taking the time to talk to individuals even if it meant that things didn't get done on time. This focus on individual relationships was one I came to appreciate, and I hope that I adopted aspects of it to blend in with my own cultural practices."

Today Greg O'Donnell is back in North America, where he recently became associate director of ACE's Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program. What landed him in the job was what landed in his heart as an undergraduate volunteer in community ed: the transforming power of education. "Something inside me," he says, "was yearning to find a way to make a greater impact on Catholic schools; [...]teaching around the world made me cognizant of the limited scope of my influence. Thus I set out to find a way to broaden my influence on the educational world, which naturally brought me back to looking at the work ACE is doing in the United States and abroad."

Click here to learn more about ACE Teaching Fellows. To read about ChACE, click here. To read about ACE English as a New Language, go here. To learn about the Remick Leadership Program, click here.

In the Spotlight: "Teachers Make a Difference," says Danny Jackson

on Friday, 08 February 2013.

Danny Jackson has a message for anyone considering the ACE Teaching Fellows program: "Anyone who wants to truly make a difference, anyone who is passionate about helping others, anyone who wants to see faces of young people light up because you've just helped them understand a concept they never would have otherwise understood, anybody who wants to work hard with the satisfaction of knowing that their hard work is making a great impact, anybody who wants to be a role model should join ACE. Words cannot describe the impact that you can make as a positive role model. If you're willing to work hard, give it a shot."

This fifth grade teacher in South Central Los Angeles explains what drew him to the program and, more generally, to Catholic schools. "They are dedicated to giving all students the chance for a great education... Kids should be given every chance to have dedicated, loving teachers, regardless of their socioeconomic status or zip code."

Now one semester into the experience, Danny has lived that mission and continues to be inspired by it. As an example, he tells the story of a quiet and hard-working student in his class at his K-8 school "where kids truly feel safe in an otherwise tough neighborhood." At his first parent teacher conference, the mother of that quiet and hard worker came in.

After hearing assurances about her daughter's progress, Danny recounts that the mother said something he will never forget. "She said that her daughter comes home every single day and talks about how she is going to college one day. 'Mr. Jackson talks about it so much,' the mother said, quoting her daughter, 'and says that we can all go there. I can go, too.'"

Danny continues, "Some days I wonder whether or not I'm making an impact. Stories like this throw all doubts out the window. Whether or not she remembers how to properly identify articles in a sentence or all fifty state capitals is irrelevant. That girl has been inspired to change her life forever and go to college. By the way, she is ten years old. How's that for inspiration? These kids are incredible."


To learn more about ACE Teaching Fellows, click here.

Meet the Interns for ACE Teaching Fellows

on Wednesday, 30 January 2013.

ACE interns join the team during their Senior years to assist with research, special projects, and recruiting efforts. They come from a broad range of disciplines and span the spectrum with activities and involvements. Meet our ACE interns for 2013-2014.

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