ACE leads in service to Catholic education

Author: Sarah Greene

Alliance for Catholic Education

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In 1994, Rev. Timothy R. Scully, C.S.C., and Rev. Sean D. McGraw, C.S.C., founded Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education program (ACE) in response to the urgent need for talented teachers and administrators in under-resourced Catholic schools, which continue to offer high quality educational opportunities to low-income families across the nation.

Since its inception, ACE has grown from a service initiative composed of a handful of Catholic school educators to a movement that has commissioned 1,200 teachers and more than 125 administrators to serve Catholic education in the United States. ACE actively supports Catholic schools to ensure that they remain vibrant signs of hope.

Today, ACE encompasses several initiatives aimed at strengthening Catholic schools, which function as hopeful solutions for more than 2 million children.

Passionate and generous college and university graduates join ACE Service Through Teaching, a two-year post-graduate service program in its 16th year of preparing teachers to serve in needy Catholic schools. ACE annually places some 175 teachers in 31 communities throughout the United States. The program’s three pillars – professional education, community, and spirituality – encourage new ACE teachers to grow as well-formed Catholic school educators, committed community members and dedicated role models.

The Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program prepares leaders to serve Catholic education as principals and superintendents. Quickly becoming the largest program of its kind in the United States since its inception in 2002, the program has prepared some 125 faith-filled candidates who now serve in leadership positions in 28 states and 52 dioceses. In its preparation and formation of transformative leaders, the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program quickens the nationwide renewal of Catholic schools.

The ACE Fellowship unites and forms a leadership force of alumni, families and friends of ACE eager to serve Catholic schools and support Catholic educators. Currently, 25 ACE Fellowship regional networks gather the talented ACE graduates and numerous advocates of Catholic education to promote continued service for Catholic schools in the United States and internationally.

Notre Dame has come to be recognized as the national leader of a growing movement to revitalize America’s Catholic schools through innovative approaches. Thirteen universities in the University Consortium for Catholic Education have adopted the ACE model of teacher formation for Catholic educators. ACE Consulting provides quality management, academic and financial guidance to under-resourced Catholic schools so that they can thrive in difficult economic times. ND ACE Academies seeks to establish effective and sustainable inner-city Catholic schools as national models.

Seeking to find and form leaders and to provide high-quality educational opportunities for the under-served, ACE strives to bear witness to hope in service to Catholic education.

ACE teacher Kevin Braun

ACE helps Dallas’ Bishop Dunne Catholic School thrive

For 10 years, ACE teachers have served at Bishop Dunne Catholic School, a culturally diverse high school of approximately 600 students in south Dallas, whose mission is to provide students with an “excellent education, fellowship, spiritual growth, social justice, and community service.”

The Bishop Dunne student body consists of an almost equal ethnic distribution of African-American, Hispanic, and Caucasian students. In addition, many students come from limited English speaking families and are first-generation college bound students.

Over the course of its decade-long affiliation with ACE, Bishop Dunne High School has embraced the talent and resources that ACE offers, and the program’s presence at the school has grown significantly. Numerous ACE graduates have chosen to remain at or return to the school after their two years of service with ACE, and teachers and administrators at Bishop Dunne High School have developed a strong partnership with the local ACE Fellowship community of Catholic school advocates.

Chris Dittrick, a current ACE Service Through Teaching participant, serves at Bishop Dunne as a chemistry and religion teacher. He joins several ACE alumni on the faculty at Bishop Dunne: Tom Perez (ACE 2), Kevin Braun (ACE 14), Nick Hurt (ACE 9), and Adarely Trejo (ACE 12), who not only attended Bishop Dunne herself, but graduated from Notre Dame and the ACE program as well. Two other members of the Bishop Dunne faculty, Marcela Garcini and JoAnne Noller, are currently enrolled in the ACE ENL program for teachers of students for whom English is a new language.

Two Bishop Dunne administrators are also ACE graduates. Principal Patrick O’Sullivan was a member of the second ACE cohort and is now a participant in ACE’s Remick Leadership Program. His assistant principal, Veronica Alonzo, began her career as an educator , then served as the first ACE teacher at Bishop Dunne. Both O’Sullivan and Alonzo have been recipients of the Michael Pressley Award for Excellence in Catholic education for the many ways in which they embody the spirit and dedication of the larger ACE community.

Working together in a mutually enriching partnership, Bishop Dunne and Notre Dame look to strengthen the great Catholic school tradition of educating the whole person for the common good.

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