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English as a New Language

St. Leander School Partners with Catholic School Advantage and ENL Program to Better Serve Latino Students

on Friday, 29 August 2014.


When Lynne Mullen, Principal of St. Leander School in the Diocese of Oakland, received the invitation to attend the Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) in 2012, she saw it as the perfect opportunity to respond to her parish community's changing demographics. Having observed the growing number of Latino families at the Spanish Masses and in the parish religious education programs, she was eager to reach out to this growing population and make Catholic education a more visible and viable option for Latino families in the community.

The LEI provided just the tools she needed to begin this important outreach. After implementing a number of strategies learned at the LEI, including meeting with prospective families after the Spanish Masses, promoting the school from the pulpit, personally walking families through the enrollment process and its accompanying paperwork, and making all scholarship applications and information available in Spanish, Mullen and her staff were able to increase the Latino enrollment at St. Leander by 43 percent the following year.

Mullen returned to Notre Dame the summer after attending the LEI to further develop St. Leander's capacity to serve the growing number of Latino families at the school, particularly those whose primary language is not English. She participated in the English as a New Language Program (ENL), where she learned how to support the academic, linguistic, and cultural needs of the Latino students and families in her school. "I have learned strategic ways to help our parents connect more meaningfully to our school and support their children's education," Mullen said. "The information I learned in my classes has helped our faculty more effectively design curriculum to assess and instruct our language learners. Our partnership with the University of Notre Dame has truly been an integral part of our Latino Enrollment Plan."

ENL Grad Impacts the Cristo Rey Network

on Thursday, 21 February 2013.

SpotlightStory02222013When Corinne Viglietta (pictured here, third from left) graduated from Notre Dame, she had no idea she would one day be a high school teacher, let alone call herself part of the ACE and Cristo Rey families.

After studying literature in graduate school, she went on to teach English in France. Upon returning to the United States, she landed at an innovative Catholic high school, Don Bosco Cristo Rey in Washington, D.C. Her school is founded on the Cristo Rey model, which gives low-income students the chance to work in corporate jobs to finance their college-prep tuition.

Accustomed to working with college students, Corinne found teaching high school juniors—many of whom were English language learners—an enormous challenge. She explains, "I knew I needed a stronger background in linguistics and more classroom strategies, but I didn't know where to look. I was an English nerd. I had never taken an education class in my life."

Corinne learned about ACE's English as a New Language (ENL) program, which trains teachers to educate linguistically diverse student populations, and decided to apply. The ENL program helped Corinne teach challenging works by Shakespeare and Woolf to non-native readers and build a repertoire of developmentally appropriate strategies for teaching academic writing.

Through ENL, Corinne also learned to strengthen community partnerships, especially those with universities, museums, and student families. Recently, she even started a student-staffed writing center at her school, where most of the peer tutors are English language learners. "It's a friendly, supportive space for young writers," she says. "Students run the show. Differences are celebrated. Everyone's welcome."

The ENL program introduced her to the vibrancy of ACE's mission and shaped the way she taught all of her students, not just those who spoke another language at home. It also opened many doors for her professionally. After completing the program in 2011, Corinne has returned to Notre Dame for the past two summers to help coordinate the summer component of ENL. She also assists a former ENL professor with her online course.

"ENL has nurtured my vocation as a teacher," Corinne says. "I'm so grateful to ENL and to ACE for helping me develop my passion for language and literature and reminding me of my call to support the most vulnerable among us."

In the Spotlight: Bethany Berg

on Friday, 06 July 2012.

It didn't take long for this first year teacher in Washington, DC, to discover the importance of English language development and its impact on student learning. By springtime, Bethany Berg says, "I already knew I needed more to support my students," many of whom were English language learners.

But where to find it? Through a colleague, Bethany discovered ACE's English as a New Language (ENL) program. She enrolled, spending two summer weeks of intensive study on Notre Dame's campus, then taking a year of on-line courses. Of the summer, she says, "In only two weeks, I walked away with not only a better understanding of what culturally and linguistically diverse students need in the classroom to find success, but also an overwhelming sense of support from the faculty and the entire cohort."

In addition, she continues, "My eyes were opened to an overwhelming need growing in schools across the country, which is the need to adequately educate the diverse student populations that fill our classrooms."

According to Bethany, the ENL program is well designed to do just that, calling the model perfect for Catholic schools. At a time when resources are scarce, when teachers, as Bethany says, "do more with less," ACE's ENL program trains them to use strategies that support the diverse learners in their classrooms. What's more, Bethany says, "It helps teachers understand that...answers will not come quickly and the work will not be easy."

Since her time in the ENL program, Bethany has begun a master's program in bilingual special education at George Washington University. She teaches at a Catholic school in Silver Spring, Maryland.

In the Spotlight: Dane Whipple

on Friday, 13 April 2012.

DaneWhipple Small

You've heard of a "Double Domer." Well, Michigan native Dane Whipple is becoming what might be considered a "Double ACEr." Last year he completed his first certification with ACE in English as a New Language (ENL); now he is well on his way toward earning his second certification with ACE in Teaching Exceptional Children (TEC).

This long-time Notre Dame fan graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint, and taught in Flint-area Catholic schools until, as he says, "the General Motors strike approached and the economy took a downturn." He relocated to San Diego, where he continued teaching and found his way to ACE.

"My motivation to join the ACE TEC program," he says, "was based on my experience in the ENL program. I learned so much [there] and met so many wonderful people that, when this second program was offered, I decided to pursue it." Dane found that teaching English as a new language truly helped struggling students—his ultimate goal. So he knew that the TEC program would equally support students with mild to moderate disabilities.

What he may not have expected is the change these programs have wrought in him. Even as he has established his school's Student Study Team, a resource for parents and students to help students achieve success; and even as he has introduced Quizlet, a website that helps students make study flashcards for their classes, Dane attests to his own growth in body, mind and spirit. He speaks of his increasing empathy for students who struggle, his openness to differentiated instruction, and the value of daily mass and other resources offered during summertime training.

Just as this teacher calls his ACE experience "a blessing," so ACE calls him, ever grateful for the thought and commitment he and others like him bring to our Catholic schools.

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