Education official speaks on challenges for teachers at ACE Commencement

Author: Bill Schmitt

Juan Sepulveda delivers keynote address at ACE graduation

The University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) conducted its 16th Commencement exercises Saturday (July 9), with a U.S. Department of Education official addressing the 106 graduates who received master’s degrees.

Juan Sepulveda, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, delivered the keynote address, thanking the ACE graduates for serving as educators in under-resourced Catholic schools “at a very critical time for us a country” when all children must be globally competitive.

Sepulveda urged the educators to be innovative and to ask themselves, “How can I create schools that maybe haven’t even existed before, because that’s what it’s going to take for our kids to be successful.”

Eighty-one members of ACE’s Service through Teaching class, which prepares young adults as teachers in Catholic schools around the country, graduated, along with the latest 25-member class from ACE’s Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, which focuses on the formation of Catholic school principals.

The Service through Teaching group earned the master of education degree while the Mary Ann Remick group earned the master of arts in educational administration degree. Both received their degrees from Notre Dame Vice President and Senior Associate Provost Christine Maziar, who served as master of ceremonies.

Also as part of the event, John and Patricia O’Brien received the 2011 Notre Dame Award for Catholic Education.

2011 ACE graduates singing Alma Mater

Rev. Timothy R. Scully, C.S.C., a founder of ACE and director of the University’s Institute for Educational Initiatives (IEI), credited the O’Briens with a lifetime of “seeking better educational opportunity for children in need.”

Two members of former ACE graduating classes—Norma Nelson and Joseph Womac—were this year’s recipients of the Michael Pressley Award for Excellence in Catholic Education. An inaugural Michael Pressley Award for a Promising Scholar in the Field of Education went to another ACE graduate, Peter Miller.

Since its inception 18 years ago, the Service through Teaching program has grown from a service initiative, composed of a handful of Catholic school educators, to a movement that has commissioned 1,400 teachers to serve Catholic schools throughout the United States. The Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program has prepared more than 170 educators now serving as school leaders in 41 states.

ACE and the IEI, a Notre Dame academic unit of which ACE is part, undertake numerous formation, research, and professional service initiatives to support and strengthen K-12 education.

Contact: Bill Schmitt, communications and media specialist,, 574-276-0340