ACE embarks on season of hope for Catholic schools

Author: Bill Schmitt

Alliance for Catholic Education

A tradition called the “ACE Summer” has just begun for the 18th time, again embodying the University of Notre Dame’s commitment to sustain, strengthen and transform Catholic K-12 education.

On Friday (May 27) Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) welcomed its new class of 90 young men and women eager to serve as teachers in under-resourced Catholic schools around the country. They will share in a distinctive, two-year experience that combines professional formation, community and spirituality, bringing participants to Notre Dame for two consecutive summers and sending them forth to teach in some 30 cities during two full school years.

This graduate-level program, ACE Service through Teaching, dates back to Notre Dame’s 1993-94 academic year, when ACE was founded as an initiative to help prepare a new generation of Catholic school teachers. Since then, ACE has been blessed with growth, marshaling resources in response to dioceses that face challenges and opportunities as stewards of the Church’s great treasure, the children it educates.

The arrival of the “ACE 18” cohort in Service through Teaching is literally only the beginning of an “ACE Summer” that will welcome close to 400 participants from across the nation in various stages and types of formation. These include current teachers preparing for careers as principals and superintendents of Catholic schools through the graduate-level Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program. They also include educators gaining skills to make their Catholic schools more inclusive through ACE’s Teaching Exceptional Children (TEC) and English as a New Language (ENL) certificate programs.

The summer schedule will also bring educators to a number of annual conferences hosted by Notre Dame. The sponsors of these professional development opportunities include ACE formation programs and other initiatives within ACE, which provide professional services crucial to school success and educational access for parents and children.

ACE is building a national movement of Catholic school advocates. It is also partnering with several dioceses in a Catholic School Advantage campaign to encourage more Latino families to enroll their children in Catholic schools, thereby offering them academic advantages, helping at-risk Catholic schools become more sustainable, and fostering society’s common good.

The symposia and conferences are scheduled on a range of topics in June and July, and registration is still open in some cases.

By the end of July, the 2011 the “ACE Summer” will conclude. Those earning a master of education degree in Service through Teaching will prepare to join ACE communities near the schools where they will teach, and they will continue their studies through online courses and ongoing ACE faculty supervision. Those earning a master of arts degree in educational administration through the two-year Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program will return to the schools that employ them as teachers and which have agreed to offer them internship, research and leadership opportunities as part of their ongoing studies. Teachers earning certificates as part of ACE’s inclusionary initiatives will also return to their schools prepared for continuing study spanning one school year.

All of the participants will leave the campus having experienced unique opportunities for community-building and growth in the Catholic faith, including daily Mass and retreats. ACE, founded by Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., and Rev. Sean McGraw, C.S.C., holds fast to the commitment to Catholic education demonstrated by the Congregation of Holy Cross. The call of Holy Cross founder, Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., for “making God known, loved, and served” is both engraved on the front of ACE’s new home on campus, Carole Sandner Hall, and central to ACE’s mission.

Those who began the graduate-level formation programs two years ago will receive their degrees at an ACE Commencement ceremony on July 9, with keynote speaker Juan Sepulveda, director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans in the U.S. Department of Education. Other formation participants, setting off to teach while they continue their ACE studies, will join in the annual “missioning” ceremonies at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Bishop Jaime Soto of the Diocese of Sacramento, California, will preside at the Missioning Mass on July 22.

Contact: Bill Schmitt, communications and media specialist,