In the Spotlight: Cassie Brownell
Cassie Brownell had her first introduction to Catholic schools when she enrolled at Marquette University. "The closest Catholic school [to our small North-Central Montana town] was sixty miles away," she tells us. What captured her imagination as a college freshman is what continues to motivate her today: a love of service and living "as a woman for others."
That motivation is also what led her to ACE Teaching Fellows (plus, she says, the influence of "some great MU alums in the ACE program") and then spurred her to enroll in ACE Teaching Exceptional Children. About her interest in TEC, Cassie says, "After three years teaching in post-Katrina New Orleans, two years in second grade with ACE and one year in first grade at my post-ACE school, I recognized trends among the academic and behavioral needs of the students I encountered. From discussions with [ACE Senior Director of Program Development] Dr. Joyce Johnstone, I knew more could be done to address the needs of not only students but parents and educators."
Through TEC, Cassie established a Strategic Intervention Team (SIT) at her school, which allowed her and her colleagues to develop relationships with six families that now, she says, "have new hope for the future of their children's academic careers." She went on to say, "My principal commented that SIT is the single-best thing to happen at our school."
Now in her fifth year of teaching, Cassie continues her focus on service and living for others. Recently she visited her ACE school, where she ran into a former student. In the first moments of their conversation, the student asked, "Do you still love all of us?" That summed up Cassie's commitment as a Catholic and an educator: "Loving my students and meeting them where they are."