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In the Spotlight: Dan Faas

on Thursday, 23 February 2012.

ACE Mobile SmallDan Faas (pictured above, back row left, with his ACE community and Dr. Tom Doyle) is a middle school Language Arts and Religion teacher in Mobile, Alabama. The dedicated and creative teacher recently answered our questions about ACE Teaching Fellows:

What motivated you to apply to ACE?
I wanted to serve young people through teaching and also discern whether the vocation of teaching was "for me." The three pillars of ACE were what won me over to the program. There are a lot of teaching/service programs out there, but very few offer the built-in community and spiritual growth opportunities that ACE provides.

How has this experience changed you so far?
ACE has gradually made me into a more selfless person. The vast majority of my time and effort is dedicated to my students—which can be frustrating, but is ultimately incredibly rewarding. ACE has shown me that there are much more important things in life than my own comfort and convenience, and that serving others is the source of greatest fulfillment.

Where/how do you feel yourself making a difference?
I don't have many "aha" moments where I feel myself making a huge difference. Rather, I know that I've made the biggest difference just by showing up, day in and day out, talking about life with my students. I think the biggest difference I can make in my students' lives is just being a constant reminder that there is someone who cares about them, holds them to high expectations and believes they can achieve them. Being present and "not going away" over time has taught my students more than any 45-minute lesson, and has made the biggest difference.

What has been your greatest highlight thus far?
Being accepted into a school community and culture vastly different than my own. I'm so thankful to have been welcomed by the African-American community at Most Pure Heart of Mary and to become a part of a school family with such rich tradition and history.

For instance, I once accepted a challenge from one of my students to a rap battle — an incredibly foolish choice on my part. However, it worked out: My willingness to do so showed my students that I was engaged in their interests, willing to have fun with them, and not afraid to back down from a challenge. It was the student who was the one who eventually "cracked" under the pressure in our lighthearted duel and after that day, my students were more willing to trust, cooperate, and have fun with me.

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