How ACE Works
The Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), an AmeriCorps Indiana and Serve Indiana program, seeks to develop a cohort of highly motivated and committed educators to meet the needs of our country's most underserved elementary and secondary schools.
Established in 1993, ACE now places over 180 college graduates in over 140 parochial schools throughout the United States.
To carry out its core teaching mission, ACE recruits talented graduates from colleges and universities across the country. ACE teachers represent a broad variety of undergraduate disciplines, with a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences. ACE provides an intensive two-year service experience encompassing professional development, community life, and spiritual growth. These three pillars are at the heart of the ACE program. ACE aims to provide excellence in education and to maximize opportunities for its participants' personal and professional growth.
Seeking to form leaders in Catholic schools, to prepare informed and active citizens for the world, and to provide high-quality educational opportunities for the under-served, ACE works tirelessly to provide a witness of hope.
The Three Pillars of ACE
An ACE teacher’s experience is founded on the three pillars of the program – teaching, community and spirituality. The integration of these three pillars throughout the ACE experience plays a valuable role in the formation of ACE teachers. ACE teachers build community in their classrooms and at home; they grow spiritually as a result of their work in school and in the community life of the house; they become better teachers through the support of their peers, supervisors, and colleagues and through the many opportunities for spiritual growth. Through the three pillars, ACE seeks to provide its participants the preparation and formation to become professional educators, build loving communities, and live active, faith-filled lives.
Grow as an Educator and earn a Cost-Free M.Ed. Degree from Notre Dame
By joining ACE, participants don’t just get the chance to serve a school in need – they get professional preparation that will enable them to make a deep and profound difference in the lives of the children they serve. The ACE M.Ed. intensively prepares teachers by integrating graduate level coursework with an immersion teaching experience. Throughout their two years teaching in under-resourced Catholic schools, ACE teachers earn a cost-free Master of Education degree from the University of Notre Dame. Upon graduation, they are eligible for state licensure as a teacher.
If ACE teachers are teaching full-time, when do they take M.Ed. courses?
ACE teachers spend two summers living and studying with the larger ACE community at Notre Dame. The centerpiece of the summer program is an innovative teacher-preparation curriculum, taught by select faculty and experienced practitioners, combined with a supervised field experience in local schools. ACE teachers also take a limited number of distance-learning classes during the academic year which directly relate to their classroom teaching experiences.
Once ACE teachers graduate, they are eligible for certification in the State of Indiana in their particular developmental level and content area. The ACE Office of Educator Licensing will work with ACE graduates seeking to transfer their license to other states.
All ACE teachers are placed into one of three developmental levels: Elementary School, Middle School, or High School. Middle and high school teachers are then placed into one of four content areas: Language Arts, Math, Science, or Social Studies.
Why is community so important in ACE?
ACE espouses a vision of community centered on the active promotion of the common good in a variety of social contexts: home, school, nation, and Church. Community in ACE derives from the Catholic conviction that all communities strive to be examples of faith, hope, and love. Year after year, community becomes a source of life and energy for ACE teachers. It is our hope, and has been our experience, that ACE teachers continue to use their community experience long after they graduate to build dynamic and life-giving communities.
What does community life look like?
ACE teachers live in small communities of 4-7 members and together share the many rewards and challenges of teaching. Each ACE community becomes a naturally supportive environment. ACE participants are called to grow together, to support one another, and to challenge each other as they develop personally, professionally, and spiritually.
How does the program help ACE teachers create successful communities?
Weekly evening sessions during the summer and retreats throughout the year provide ACE teachers with skills for building successful communities. In addition to the support ACE teachers receive from one another, ACE’s Pastoral Administrators both support and challenge ACE teachers in their personal, communal, and spiritual lives.
What is housing like?
During the summer, ACE teachers will live in a dorm on Notre Dame’s campus with other ACE teachers.
During the school year, ACE communities live in affordable housing located by each (arch)diocese served. Available housing varies widely from diocese to diocese. Many ACE houses are former convents or rectories, others are rented from local parish members or benefactors, and others are apartments. Individuals contribute each month to pay for rent, utilities, internet, and food. Teaching stipends are determined based on the cost of living in each community to ensure that living costs are manageable.
What does spirituality in ACE look like?
The spirituality of ACE is rooted in the belief that we are called to an encounter with Christ the Teacher, and it is the Holy Spirit who calls people, as the Spirit called the first disciples, to this encounter. Grounded in the Catholic faith, ACE emphasizes an invitational spirituality during the two-year experience and beyond. ACE welcomes teachers of all faiths and denominations and encourages the development of personal spirituality and faith in the context of community, sharing with one another the journey of becoming committed Catholic school teachers.
ACE’s efforts at pastoral formation strive to meet ACE teachers where they are and invite them to a deeper relationship with God and a deeper sense of how their service and life in community are connected to their spirituality. ACE seeks to form Catholic educators who integrate their personal, communal, professional, and spiritual lives in their journey to answer the Holy Spirit’s call to serve.
What opportunities for spiritual growth do ACE teachers have?
An important goal of the program is to provide ACE teachers with the tools to become reflective professional educators and to live out their faith daily. First and foremost, as Catholic school educators, ACE teachers will have the opportunity to form and guide their students in their faith lives, which in turn will shape their own. Summers at Notre Dame offer a variety of opportunities for spiritual growth including coursework, retreats, Mass, and prayer services. Members of each ACE community together develop their spiritual and prayer lives, embracing personal experiences and inviting each other to grow in faith. In addition, ACE teachers often find spiritual support, direction, and challenge from the pastoral team.
Every ACE teacher's experience is different, but for all ACE teachers, the journey is punctuated by several major milestones:
First ACE Summer
ACE teachers engage in graduate-level coursework to prepare to lead a classroom of their own. They also begin to apply what they have learned through an extended practicum teaching experience in a local school. Additionally, ACE teachers spend time getting to know their immediate community members, as well as the broader ACE community, through various fellowship activities. They are also encouraged to continue their individual spiritual growth through retreats, Mass and other opportunities for prayer and reflection.
First Year of Teaching
ACE teacher are welcomed into their new school and local communities and are focused on making a successful transition into full-time teaching. They are also invited to participate in the life of the school community beyond the traditional school day - coaching a sport, directing a choir, moderating a student club, etc. ACE teachers live in community with their peers, and gradually learn how to balance community and spiritual life with the demands of first-year teaching. All ACE teachers are supported by their academic supervisor, pastoral administrator, principal, and mentor teacher.
Second ACE Summer
The second summer is designed to help ACE teachers grow in all three pillars - teaching, community and spirituality. The academic coursework helps individuals process their first-year teaching experience with a constant focus on how to improve in order to better serve their students. Through retreats, shared meals, Mass, and other activities, ACE teachers continue to grow in relationship with God and one another.
Second Year of Teaching
Upon returning to their school community, familiarity enables ACE teachers to improve their teaching, enter more deeply into community life, and make more intentional time for prayer. Professionally, ACE teachers are challenged to grow in new ways by their academic supervisor, principal, and mentor teacher. Meanwhile, their pastoral administrator and fellow community members continue to challenge them to grow personally and spiritually.
The two-year ACE journey culminates in Graduation Weekend, a wonderful time for ACE teachers to celebrate their accomplishments with friends and family, including a commencement ceremony and a graduation Mass. The commencement retreat is also offered in the days leading up to graduation, which ACE teachers enjoy as an opportunity to reflect on the totality of their experience.
Life after ACE
Following their two years in ACE Teaching Fellows, ACE graduates have gone on to lead and serve in some of the nation's most competitive Ph.D., JD, and MD programs; high performing schools and school systems; and prominent ventures in engineering, finance, and other organizations in the non-profit and for-profit sectors. Additionally, several ACE graduates have responded to a call to religious life after their two years of service.
Regardless of the career and vocational paths ACE graduates choose, we hope all remain advocates for children in need, particularly through supporting Catholic schools. For more information about how ACE graduates and others remain committed to sustaining and strengthening Catholic schools, visit the ACE Advocates.
Meet the ACE Teaching Fellows Team
ACE Teaching Fellows Faculty
The ACE Faculty of Supervision and Instruction constitute the full-time M.Ed. faculty at Notre Dame. These university-based faculty teach courses during the summer and visit ACE teachers during the school year, conducting formal and informal observations and evaluations. ACE teachers are enrolled in internet-delivered courses during the school year taught by members of the supervision and instruction team as well as faculty from Notre Dame and other universities.
For adjunct faculty, ACE draws upon talented and committed educators from nationally-renowned programs across the country, as well as from the deep pool of talented researchers with interests in education at Notre Dame, and expert practitioners in the South Bend community.
Pastoral Administrators and Support Team
One of the unique aspects of ACE is the personal support provided by the ACE Team. Members of the ACE Team provide pastoral support throughout one's two years in the program, which includes staying in regular contact with and visiting our ACE communities and supporting ACE teachers in their personal, communal, and spiritual lives.
As many served as ACE teachers themselves, they can relate in a particularly compelling way to the joys and struggles of beginning teaching and community life that ACE teachers often experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
In addition to an incomparable experience of teaching and mentoring, ACE Teachers will…
- Receive a rigorous and competitive graduate fellowship culminating with a Master of Education degree from the University of Notre Dame;
- Obtain a teaching license in Indiana, which currently has reciprocity with 45+ states;
- Earn a stipend of approximately $12,000 a year and affordable housing arranged by ACE in the (arch)diocese in which an ACE Teacher serves
- Receive cost-free room, board, and parking during the summer sessions on Notre Dame’s campus
- Obtain eligibility for loan deferment
- Have the support of a pastoral administrator, an academic supervisor, and a community with whom the teacher lives at their placement site
- Deepen their faith and prepare to be a spiritual leader in their school
In April 2021, the University of Notre Dame’s Executive Officers mandated that all graduate students, including ACE teachers, be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enroll as students. Except for minor adjustments to adhere to local and university health safety guidelines, our eight-week summer graduate coursework, programming, and formation returned to its pre-pandemic form – in-person coursework, retreats, etc.
ACE teachers continue to live and serve in their respective school communities during the academic year, as well. Despite shifting circumstances, our academic faculty and pastoral team have continued to provide an unwavering commitment to support our ACE teachers as they seek to be present to the students and families entrusted to their care.
ACE is founded on three pillars: forming professional educators, building community, and growing spiritually. We seek to integrate these pillars in as many aspects of formation as possible, including our diversity, equity, & inclusion efforts.
Practices of cultural responsiveness and sustenance, for example, are integrated into the M.Ed. coursework. Teachers’ first summer includes a workshop on Christocentric Cultural Responsiveness to begin reflecting on the role of personal identity within community. Additionally, there are multiple opportunities to extend those reflections as teachers learn about the communities and individuals they serve including implicit bias trainings, book studies, and discussion groups on topics such as building an antiracist ontology.
This year, the academic faculty are piloting a two-year series of workshops designed to build upon formation provided during the summer session. Workshops are designed to concretize steps ACE teachers can take to become more inclusive educators within the context of their school and (arch)diocesan communities. Examples of such workshops include, but are not limited to, Liberatory Consciousness and Identity & Intersectionality as a Catholic School Educator.
Additionally, there are multiple opportunities to extend those reflections as teachers learn about the communities and individuals they serve including implicit bias training, book studies, and discussion groups on topics such as building an antiracist ontology. Teachers are encouraged to communicate with staff regarding other opportunities they desire. Much of the content of these formation experiences is shaped by this ongoing dialogue, and we look forward to our continual growth together.
ACE Teachers have gone on to become teachers, physicians, entrepreneurs, engineers, financial leaders, attorneys, Fulbright scholars, law review editors, university professors, superintendents, leaders of scholarship foundations, presidents and principals of schools, priests, and national science grantees. From whatever professional or personal path they pursue, ACE graduates continue to advocate for Catholic schools and for the needs of children in low-income communities.
If you’re interested in learning more about the various paths our graduates have gone onto, we would encourage you to join us for one of our #WhereACETakesYou panels or check-out our library of previously recorded panels.
ACE seeks energetic, passionate leaders who welcome the challenges of beginning teaching, who can maintain a sense of perspective throughout the two-year experience, and who are able to create community both where they live and in the schools in which they work. ACE Teachers must demonstrate maturity, leadership skills, openness to spiritual growth, and the ability to work independently. Strong candidates for ACE will display an excellent work ethic, a solid academic record, and experience in service and extra-curricular activities.
Still, ACE Teachers don’t fit into a mold – there’s no “typical” candidate for the program. ACE has welcomed graduates from nearly every academic discipline and from 250 colleges and universities around the world.
Prospective applicants may choose to apply either on our Fall or Spring application timeline. These two application timelines are outlined below:
- September 7th: Application Opens
Fall Application Timeline
Spring Application Timeline
November 2nd, 2021
January 18th, 2022
December 10th, 2021
March 1st - April 7th, 2022 (Rolling)
Mid- to Late-December
Mid- to Late-March
- April 8th – 10th: ACE April Orientation Retreat at Notre Dame
- May 27th – 29th: ACE 28 Move-in & Opening Retreat
- May 31st: First Day of Classes
The only substantive difference between the two application timelines is that prospective applicants who choose to apply on the fall timeline will be asked to respond to an offer of admission without knowing the specifics of their teaching placement (developmental level and subject area). Those who apply on our spring timeline will be notified of the details of their placement decision prior to their commitment deadline.
Applicants apply to ACE via the University of Notre Dame Graduate School application system. Therefore, when applying to ACE an applicant is also applying to Notre Dame’s Graduate School. The Notre Dame Graduate School has once again waived the GRE requirement for the 2021-22 academic year; therefore, the GRE is not required for admission.
However, per the Indiana Dept. of Education, all applicants to ACE Teaching Fellows must demonstrate basic skills for teacher licensure. There are multiple options to meet this requirement, including the ACT, SAT, or Praxis; you can find the necessary score requirements here. If your ACT, SAT, and Praxis scores do not meet the minimum requirements, we do ask that you submit GRE scores.
In addition to our fall application timeline, ACE is happy to work with prospective applicants to conduct an expedited application and interview process if another offer conflicts with the presented ACE application timelines; ACE will need written documentation of the offer and its deadline. If applicants think this scenario may arise, they are encouraged to contact Michael Comuniello (firstname.lastname@example.org, 574.631.6561) as soon as possible.
Per the Graduate School, ACE has no specific GRE or GPA requirements required for admission. Last year, the middle 50% GPA range for ACE 28 was 3.50 – 3.84. When evaluating applicants, the selection committee considers an applicant’s academic history, record of service, leadership experience, community involvement, hunger for spiritual growth, application essays, recommendation letters, among other factors
It is possible, but it will require some flexibility. The ACE teacher may have to sacrifice his or her final week on campus, take final exams early, etc. Some ACE teachers have had to come to Notre Dame’s campus and then return to their undergraduate institution for graduation. The first week of ACE’s summer coursework is essential and cannot be made up.
Applicants will receive either a phone call or e-mail notification between December 10th – 17th, 2021 (Fall Timeline) or March 1st – April 7th, 2021 (Spring Timeline). In this communication, applicants are told whether they have been accepted, deferred (Fall Timeline), wait-listed (Spring Timeline), or rejected.
The waitlist for ACE Teaching Fellows is not ranked. Due to the specific requests made by our partner (arch)diocesan schools, ACE revisits the entire candidate pool before extending an offer to an applicant on the waitlist.
ACE encourages underclassmen to speak with current or former ACE teachers, members of the ACE team (most of whom are graduates of ACE), and others who have a strong understanding of the program. ACE also encourages prospective applicants to gain experience working with students (e.g. through tutoring, coaching, or mentoring programs), seek leadership roles at their colleges and universities, and engage in faith-based service. Underclassmen may also consider attending ACE events on their respective campus or participate in our #WhereACETakesYou programming.
ACE serves 140+ Catholic schools in 16 states, as well as Washington DC. ACE teachers live in one of 35 ACE communities in 33 (arch)dioceses. The 2021-22 communities are the following:
- Atlanta, GA
- Austin, TX
- Baton Rouge, LA
- Brownsville, TX
- Chicago, IL
- Corpus Christi, TX
- Dallas, TX
- Detroit, MI
- Denver, CO
- Fort Worth, TX
- Indianapolis, IN
- Jacksonville, FL
- Los Angeles, CA
- Louisville, KY
- Mission, TX
- Mobile, AL
- New Orleans, LA
- New York City, NY
- Oakland, CA
- Oklahoma City, OK
- Pensacola, FL
- Philadelphia, PA
- Phoenix, AZ
- Sacramento, CA
- San Antonio, TX
- San Jose, CA
- Santa Ana, CA
- South Bend, IN
- St. Petersburg, FL
- Stockton, CA
- Tampa, FL
- Tucson, AZ
- Tulsa, OK
- Twin Cities, MN
- Washington, DC
Applicants rank their preferences for developmental level (2nd/3rd, 4th/5th, Middle School, and High School) and content area on their application. The dynamics of placement preclude us from guaranteeing placement preference. This process includes the following considerations:
- The specific requests made by our (arch)diocesan school partners; and
- An applicant’s undergraduate course of study.
The selection team is wholeheartedly committed to placing participants in environments that will allow them to thrive and will maximize their skill sets.
ACE welcomes candidates from all academic disciplines. We place teachers
- in self-contained elementary classrooms (2nd through 5th grades)
- in middle school content areas (6th through 8th grades)
- in high school content areas (9th through 12th grades)
Major content areas include the following::
- English & Language Arts
- Social Studies
Many ACErs teach a combination of these subjects (e.g., middle school Math and Science).
Potentially, but it all depends on the applicant’s ability to pass the content test required for licensure per the Indiana Dept. of Education; typically, one’s undergraduate coursework is a good predictor. Applicants are encourage to contact the ACE staff for transcript reviews or advice about teaching qualifications and requirements.
Absolutely! ACE welcomes candidates from all academic disciplines, including education.
Teacher Formation, Community Life, and Spirituality
ACE Teachers spend two summers living and studying with the larger ACE community at Notre Dame. The centerpiece of the summer program is an innovative teacher-preparation curriculum, taught by select faculty and experienced practitioners, combined with a supervised field experience in local public and Catholic schools. ACE Teachers also take a limited number of distance-learning classes during the academic year which directly relate to their classroom teaching experiences. Learn more on the scope & sequence of the M.Ed. curriculum.
All ACE teachers have at least four support resources at their disposal throughout their two years in the program: an academic supervisor from the Faculty of Supervision and Instruction, a pastoral administrator, their school principal, and a designated mentor teacher in their local school.
Principals, as well as academic supervisors, provide ongoing formative and summative evaluations of an ACE teacher’s teaching. Mentor Teachers serve a non-evaluative role by helping ACE Teachers orient to their new city and school, conferencing with them about instructional and curricular goals on a regular basis, and reflecting with the ACE Teacher about successes and struggles in and out of the classroom.
Local support resources also include other school faculty, the (arch)diocesan superintendent, former ACE teachers who may remain in the area, and the Notre Dame Alumni Club who welcome the ACE teachers to their local communities.
Yes, ACE teachers will regularly assume leadership positions throughout the school, offering their time and talents in areas such as athletics, student government, Campus Ministry, and many others.
No, housing and furnishings are provided. ACE teachers need simply to bring personal belongings to campus for the summer session, where they will live in on-campus residence halls, and to their communities.
No, an ACE teacher does not need a car; nor should transportation, or lack thereof, keep applications from applying! ACE teachers certainly do not need cars during the summer sessions at Notre Dame. Many ACE teachers find it helpful to have a personal car at their sites due to school commitments and extracurricular activities. Still, many ACE teachers carpool. Please contact a member of the ACE team about transportation if you have questions and/or concerns.
ACE is committed to sending faith-filled, committed teachers to Catholic schools. While the biggest poverty served in ACE schools is socioeconomic, ACE also serves schools that are in need of strong faith-filled role models.
Yes, ACE invites all applicants for service to Catholic education. All participants should demonstrate a lived commitment to their faith tradition and should be willing to live and work in community, as well as contribute to the spiritual formation of their students.
As Catholic school educators, ACE Teachers will have the opportunity to form and guide their students in their faith lives, which in turn will shape their own.
Summers at Notre Dame offer a variety of opportunities for spiritual growth including retreats, liturgies, and prayer services. All ACE Teachers will take one of two classes – Introduction to Teaching Religion or Teaching in Catholic Schools – to better prepare them to serve as a spiritual resource for their students.
Members of each ACE community together develop their spiritual and prayer lives, embracing personal experiences and inviting each other to grow in faith. In addition, ACE Teachers often find spiritual support, direction, and challenge from the pastoral team.
Don't see your question above?
Please contact Mike Comuniello at email@example.com or 574-631-6561.
A series that features conversations with ACE graduates, current ACE teachers, and ACE team members. Panel conversations highlight the professional experiences of our graduates and how their ACE experience better prepared them for their vocation. We encourage you to look for topics that align with your personal interests and discernment, and join the conversation to learn more.