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The ACE Post

Community Retreats Offer ACE Teachers Time for Reflection and Rejuvenation

Friday, June 11, 2021 by Joe DiSipio

ACE 27 28 Retreats

The past two weeks, the ACE community has celebrated a joyous return to one of the traditions that marks the ACE experience: community retreat.

Since March 2020, the pieces of our community have been scattered across the country. Retreats that defined the major moments in an ACE teacher’s journey - whether in April, June or December - had been hosted virtually or in a hybrid setting. But starting with the arrival of ACE 28 on Memorial Day weekend the ACE community became whole again. Joy and gratitude permeates Dillon Hall, ACE teachers’ home for the summer.

The Fun of Teaching

Tuesday, June 01, 2021 by Chris Lembo - ACE 27, Atlanta

Chris Lembo - ACE Teaching Fellows

I love acting like a child. If one of the love languages was goofing around, playing pretend, and making funny faces, that would be mine. Not a day goes by when I don’t think back on how careless and fun my childhood was. Especially now, as a middle school teacher, I am constantly bringing back memories from my own eighth-grade experience to help me relate to my students better. However, I knew when I joined ACE that I wouldn’t be acting like a child in class. One of the pillars of ACE is professionalism, and besides that, I was now responsible for someone’s child for the majority of the week. There is a time for the child-like goofiness, and a time for professionalism and responsibility.

The Sacred Spaces of ACE JAX

Thursday, May 20, 2021 by By: Fiona Williams - ACE 26, Jacksonville

The Sacred Spaces of ACE JAX - Fiona Williams

The people make the place and ACE Jacksonville has a lot of sacred spaces for me. When moving to an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar folks, we create safe havens together that sustain joy. Take a peak at five places that harbor ACE JAX community life.

The Great Bridgebuilding of God

Thursday, May 13, 2021 by Joe Everett - ACE 26, Tucson

The Great Bridgebuilding of God - Alliance for Catholic Education

“Catch only what you’ve thrown yourself,
all is mere skill and little gain;
but when you’re suddenly the catcher of a ball
thrown by an eternal partner
with accurate and measured swing
towards you, to your center, in an arch
from the great bridgebuilding of God:
why catching then becomes a power—
not yours, a world’s.”

Besides providing a convenient title for this post, Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem extends a not-so-convenient invitation – the same invitation that Jesus extends to us – “step outside your comfort zone, and follow me.” To every person that says “YES” to teaching in Catholic schools around the country, ACE extends this very same invitation. In this way, ACE is fundamentally an invitation to participate in bridgebuilding. All too often, however, we believe that we are the only ones building the bridges.

Notre Dame Catholicism: A Protestant’s story

Wednesday, May 12, 2021 by Weston Dell, ACE 28 - Tampa

Notre Dame Grotto

Weston is a current Notre Dame senior who will be serving as a member of ACE 28 in Tampa, Florida. The following reflection was recently published in The Observer.


I came to Notre Dame as a nondenominational Protestant. My parents raised my brothers and me in a Christian home in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. Throughout my childhood, we attended Sunday services semi-regularly at a nearby nondenominational church that drew heavily on evangelical teaching. During my high school years, I became very involved in the church’s youth group, participating in service and gaining a better understanding of the Gospel. My Christian faith played an important role in my life at that time, and I considered it a critical part of my identity.

The People We Are and the Work We Do

Sunday, May 09, 2021 by John Schoenig

“I watch what I do to see what I believe.”
- Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ

There’s a fine line between being “hungry” and being an obsessive sourpuss. Until very recently, I had no real appreciation of the contours of that line. In fact, it was just two years ago – at the tail end of a visit that Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ made to the ACE community. 

For those who may be unfamiliar with Sr. Helen, she is perhaps best known as the author of Dead Man Walking, an acclaimed account of her work with two death row prisoners at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, which ignited a national conversation about the death penalty. She has spent more than 40 years fighting for the abolition of capital punishment, working tirelessly with policy makers, law enforcement officials, and Church leaders – and accompanying death row inmates in their final hours.

Of all of the delightful moments during her time with the ACE community, the one that resonated most deeply with me occurred at the end of her trip. After dropping her off at the airport - just as I got back to campus - I got a call from Sr. Helen. “John-boy!”, she said, “It’s Sr. Helen. I left my computer at the hotel!”

I raced to the hotel, retrieved the computer, and tried to observe as many traffic laws as possible on the return trip. As I pulled up, Sr. Helen was standing at the curb with a huge smile. We chatted for a bit and got ready to part. Just as she was about to head to her flight, she put her hand on my shoulder and said 

“Don’t you forget – God made you to do great things. Don’t waste time trying to figure it out. Give God permission to move you.”

Each of you was made for greatness. So, too, was each of your students. The hunger you are called to embody is about much more than ambition. It is a function of what Martin Luther King, Jr. called “divine dissatisfaction.” You set high expectations for your students – not because it is what your school demands – but rather because it is what your students deserve. You persist in the more frustrating dimensions of teaching – not because that is what successful people do – but because you love your students so much that you put their success ahead of your own. You know that the clearest indication of what you believe isn’t what you say or how you feel. It is what you actually do. I came so that they might have life,” says Jesus, “and have it more abundantly.” You have an incredible opportunity to help your students live life more abundantly. I pray that you’ll give God permission to move you to do so. It took a curbside conversation with a firecracker Cajun nun for me to figure that out. For that, I will be eternally grateful.Give God permission to move you.

Loving God, I recognize you are always with me and your movements are in everything I do. Help me see you reflected in the person I am becoming and in my daily work. Amen.

To the Moms that Raise Us Up

Sunday, May 09, 2021 by Lauren Sinnock, ACE 27 - Tampa Bay

lauren sinnock 2

It is five minutes past the first bell, and a timid freshman peeks with her usual hesitancy into my classroom. Her tears show that she’s upset, although I do not need so see them to know it. Lilah usually does not conceal her feelings. She is also readily trusting, without protective barriers that make her wary about telling me the cause of her crying. I stand by; I am beside her. I am not immediately convinced that I’m doing enough, but I am committed to remaining present to her.

Both Sides of the Journey: Reflecting on April Retreat 2021

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 by Jess Zlaket (ACE 26 - Forth Worth) and Peter Spalitto (ACE 26 - Atlanta)

April Retreat 2021

Jess Zlaket (Fort Worth) and Peter Spalitto (Atlanta) are finishing their second years as ACE teachers as they transition to become part of the Teaching Fellows’ pastoral team. They joined ACE 28, the newest members of ACE Teaching Fellows, on their annual April Retreat and reflected on both sides of their journey.

College Athletics to Teaching - A Different Kind of Love

Friday, April 23, 2021 by By: Claire DeSelm - ACE 27, Dallas

Claire DeSelm - ACE 27, Dallas

My alarm clock is set to the same time this year as it has been for the past four years -- 5:30 AM. Walking into my dark classroom at Cristo Rey Dallas is a lot like walking into the dark locker room to get ready for morning practice. Similar to my years as a college athlete, most days I find myself taking a deep breath, having a sip of coffee, and saying a quick prayer before I turn on my classroom lights and say yes to the grind of the day ahead. When I chose to swim at Notre Dame, a lot of people told me that being a college athlete would be the hardest thing I would ever do. They were right! When I chose to do ACE, move to Dallas, and teach high schoolers for the next two years, several others told me being a first-year teacher would be the hardest thing I would ever do. They were right, too!

A Day in the Life of an ACE Teacher

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 by Maria Corr - ACE 27, Oakland

Maria Corr - Day in the Life of an ACE Teacher

I always thought that a teacher’s job began and ended with the school day. They wake up around 6, get to school by 7, teach back-to-back classes until the final bell at 2:30 in the afternoon, go home after an hour of grading or a faculty meeting, and then spend the rest of their evenings how any other person would – perhaps a workout, a nap, family time, or TV time. 

With nearly one full academic year of teaching under my belt (ahh!), I can easily confirm that a teacher’s job does not exist exclusively between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. The daily logistics (planning, grading, meetings), ever-expanding to-do lists (emails, class newsletter creation, more emails), and emotions (joyous celebrations, occasional heavy-heartedness, and, this year, frequent Zoom fatigue) that characterize the beautiful busyness of education cannot be confined to eight hours each day. 

ACE Intern Uncovers a Desire for Teaching by Digging into Data

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 by Kenta Sachen - ACE 28 Intern

My freshman year, I became a founding member of a baseball analytics team here at Notre Dame. Although I’ve never played baseball, it has always been my favorite sport, so I was enamored with the opportunity to “play” baseball with analytics. Led by a couple of juniors, we focused on researching college baseball, and then we worked with the varsity team to provide them with data-driven insights for practices and games. I was brand new to the technical aspects of our work and strived to be a diligent student learning from these juniors.

A Sixth Grade Girl and Her Six Lessons on God

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 by Michael Kenney - ACE 26, Twin Cities

On my way to proctor breakfast duty, I think about the four minutes following our morning bell. Soon, at 9:15 a.m., the first bell will ring, giving students four minutes to head from breakfast to homeroom and granting me those same, precious four minutes to print the eighth-grade religion worksheets, send a student to the office for morning announcements, stick an IEP form in a colleague’s mailbox, and if all goes according to plan, grab a cup of coffee in stride to class.

We Are Not a Lukewarm People

Friday, March 12, 2021 by Joe DiSipio

“But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.”  - Luke 15:19

Sometime last year, in the space between the New Year and the start of Lent, Kalie Paranzino led our Sacramento community in a beautiful prayer centered on finding and painting our “word” of the year that could become an easily-repeated meditative prayer mantra. When we hung up our five words in our dining room, we did not know what this year would hold or what those words could come to mean.

"The mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart."

Wednesday, February 10, 2021 by Connor Ruff | Frassati Intern - Cohort 3 | Computer Science ‘22 | Archdiocese of Chicago

Connor Ruff Frassati Internship

"The mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart."

To a Notre Dame student, these words, plastered around University advertisements and brochures, perhaps have become a bit trite. But the Frassati Internship dares you to consider this idea beyond just your First Year Experience course and gives you the opportunity to do so.

What Catholic Education Has Taught Me

Tuesday, February 09, 2021 by Rachel Rell | Frassati Intern - Cohort 3 | Marketing and Theology ‘22 | National Catholic Educational Association

From kindergarten through eighth grade, I attended a very small Catholic school in central Wisconsin. St. Francis was the only Catholic school in my town, and one of only fourteen Catholic elementary schools in the northern half of the state. I certainly enjoyed my time at St. Francis, but saying that I moved on to high school and college without fully recognizing the impact my school and church had on my life would be an understatement.

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