ACE Awards honor contributions to Catholic education

by William G. Gilroy

In recognition of the 10th anniversary of the founding of its Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program, the University of Notre Dame has established the Notre Dame Awards for Outstanding Contributions to Catholic Education. The awards were presented at a ceremony that followed the ACE missioning Mass on Saturday (July 26). The recipients included:p. Bishop J. Terry Steib of Memphis, Tenn. Steib has been instrumental in the Jubilee Schools project, through which inner-city Catholic schools in Memphis have been re-opened since he became bishop. ACE has placed 12 teachers in the diocese in the last four years, including one graduate, Jim Rigg, who will become principal of a Jubilee school this fall.p. Bishop Patrick F. Flores of San Antonio, Texas. Flores has long served as an advocate for the poor in South Texas and his dedication to, and work on behalf of, the Mexican and Mexican-American community in San Antonio has been an inspiration to many who work in Catholic education. In recent years, ACE has expanded its efforts into schools serving predominantly Latino populations, with one-third of current ACE schools serving primarily Latino students. ACE will expand to San Antonio in 2003-04 by sending six teachers to serve in four schools, where the program’s mission of service to the Mexican-American community will be closely connected to Flores’ mission.p. Superintendent of Schools Patricia T. Tierney, Jacksonville/St. Augustine, Fla., and Superintendent of Schools Gwen Byrd, Mobile, Ala. Tierney and Byrd have served as superintendents of their dioceses for 23 and 20 years, respectively, and are both founding partners of ACE. Tierney has supported more than 30 ACE teachers in Jacksonville and St. Augustine during the past 10 years and Bryd has hosted more than 60 ACE teachers in Montgomery and Mobile. Both have dedicated their lives to Catholic education as teachers and administrators and have had enormous impacts on the growth of ACE. Both are members of the ACE Advisory Board and have been outspoken advocates for ACE among Catholic school administrators nationally.p. Sister Bernadette McNamara, principal of St. Peter the Apostle School, Pascagoula, Miss. Sister Bernadette, a Sister of the Holy Spirit from Ireland, has served at St. Peter’s for 10 years, including nine as principal, and has spent more than 45 years in Catholic education. Her unflagging leadership of St. Peter’s, a small, entirely African-American elementary school in southern Mississippi, has kept the school afloat through many difficult periods. The school has dealt with many financial problems, particularly in 1998 when Hurricane Georges leveled the school building. During those difficult times, Sister Bernadette’s leadership kept the school active and has been an inspiration to the local community.p. After two years, the students receive a master of education degree, and, although not obliged to remain in education, 75 percent stay in the profession in both public and private elementary and secondary schools throughout the country.p. The ACE Catholic Schools Leadership Initiative is designed to provide an innovative academic, pastoral and spiritual formation opportunity for a cadre of new Catholic school principals. Leadership participants engage in a 14-month course of study that includes two summers at Notre Dame and a one-year administrative internship during the academic year. The program is funded by a grant from the Goizueta Foundation of Atlanta.p.

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