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ACE leaders embark on bus tour

Mel Flanagan | Thursday, January 31, 2013

In celebration of the Alliance for Catholic Education’s (ACE) 20th anniversary, ACE leaders will embark on a national bus tour to acknowledge the contributions of its teachers and administrators to Catholic schools.

ACE has sent young college graduates to teach students in underserved Catholic schools in its Service Through Teaching program since its inception in 1993.

Sr. Gail Mayotte, director of field supervision for ACE Service Through Teaching, said the tour will celebrate more than just current and past ACE teachers and administrators.

“The whole opportunity is a celebration of Catholic education, to recognize local contributions to Catholic education, to provide an opportunity to share in the anniversary celebration,” she said. “But mostly [it is] the celebration of the gift of Catholic education locally and nationally.”

The yearlong bus tour will begin in the fall and will stop at 50 cities across the country. Each location is affiliated with ACE, either through its Service Through Teaching program or one of the many other programs initiated at ACE over the past 20 years.

John Staud, senior director of pastoral formation and administration for ACE, will be on the bus for the majority of its stops.

“Many people connected with ACE will partake in certain segments of the trip,” Staud said. “We’re even trying to see if we can get famous Catholic schools graduates or celebrities to be guest riders on the bus so we can make it a local news story.”

Staud said the two constant riders of the bus will be Fr. Tim Scully, founder of ACE, and Fr. Lou DelFra, ACE director of pastoral life.

Scully founded ACE after he recognized the dearth of Catholic sschoolteachers in the Southeast, Staud said. He hung posters around Notre Dame campus that read, “Tired of homework? Give some. Be a teacher,” and was overwhelmed by the response, Staud said.

“There was a real interest in service through teaching,” Staud said. “There was a real need for it, and Notre Dame students equally responded to that need.”

Soon after its inception, the program had grown so much that the University installed a Master’s program within it in cooperation with the University of Portland’s Master’s program, Staud said.

But soon ACE outstripped Portland’s capacity, and Notre Dame launched its own Master’s of Education degree program in 1998. In the ACE master’s program, teachers learn through a teacher-preparation curriculum taught by faculty and practitioners combined with supervised field experience, coupled with distance-learning classes through the academic year.

Participants earn a cost-free Master of Education from Notre Dame following two years in the progra, and they then become eligible for state licensure as a teacher.

ACE has since expanded to include other degree and certification programs such as the Mary Ann Remnick Leadership Program, which prepares participants for educational administration, and English as a New Language certification, which prepares teachers to serve children who speak a different language at home.

ACE also prioritizes eight professional and outreach programs, which the ACE website explains helps the initiatives to reach a larger pool of people and to aid those people in the development of professional skills.

But ‘Service Through Teaching’ remains the heart of the ACE program, Abby Salazar said. Salazar serves as the assistant director of ACE Service Through Teaching and as a pastoral administrator for teachers in Texas.

“We take very talented leaders and shape them into teachers, and the energy and spirit within that cohort is incredible,” Salazar said. “They go off to do endless things for education.”

Salazar, who was a teacher in ACE before she worked for the organization, said the Service Through Teaching program provides tremendous opportunities for both the students and the teachers.

“What better way to live Catholic Social Teaching than to share that with kids in Catholic schools who don’t have the same experiences Notre Dame students have had?” she said. “It shapes you in teaching, but it shapes your spirit too, and builds further on that sense of community you get at Notre Dame.”

Contact Mel Flanagan at mflanag3@nd.edu