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Spellings to address ACE graduates in July

Kelly Meehan | Friday, March 10, 2006

In its almost 13-year history, Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) has proven itself a program worthy of praise from many organizations – and now it can now add the White House to this prestigious list.

Presidential cabinet member and Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has accepted University President Father John Jenkins’ invitation to be the speaker at ACE’s 11th graduation ceremony on July 15.

Eighty-eight ACE graduates will reconvene on Notre Dame’s campus for the ceremony after being apart while teaching at various schools across the nation. Commencement will conclude their participation in the two-year service program that allowed them to serve as full-time teachers in under-resourced Catholic schools throughout the southern United States.

ACE director John Staud said he is thrilled and believes ACE is fortunate to have Spellings come to Notre Dame.

“We had obviously wanted to try to get more national exposure at the highest levels to the ACE program,” Staud said. “[Spellings] is someone who is responsible for all education in the country.”

Staud said although Spellings is primarily responsible for public schooling, she is very supportive of private and Catholic education.

Spellings was born in Michigan and moved to Houston, Texas at a young age. She graduated from the University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in political science and previously worked as then-Governor George W. Bush’s senior advisor, expanding and implementing Bush’s education policy.

ACE faculty, teachers and graduates will be present for her speech at the 2 p.m. ceremony in the DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts.

Staud said he hopes Spellings will not only “inspire graduates to devote their energies directly to children,” but also become increasingly familiarized with the program and give advice to ACE faculty.

According to Staud, ACE graduation is held in July to allow the teachers to complete their classroom work and return to Notre Dame to commemorate their two years of service work across the nation with their families.

“This ceremony will celebrate the achievement of the 88 graduates,” Staud said. “Spellings’ address will better emphasize the value and importance of this profession.”