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ACE program recruits prospective teachers

| Thursday, October 27, 2016

On Wednesday night in Remick Commons, the Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) held a meeting for interested students about its teaching fellowship.

The program involves two years of teaching in an under-resourced Catholic school, along with graduate classes over the summers before the academic years to give teaching fellows experience and training in the different facets of teaching.

The turnout for the event was larger than expected, with slightly more than a third of the attendees occupying standing room or finding a seat on the floor.

After opening remarks from recruiting coordinator Matt Gelchion, the presentation continued with a collage of videos sent in from fellows in the program. After the video concluded, teaching fellow Catherine Wagner spoke about what prompted her to join the program.

She cited a desire to have meaningful interactions with others on a daily basis, as well as her research into the imbalance of women versus men in STEM-related positions and how having female mentors in those areas is a huge part of closing the gap.

“I want to be a role model for all my students, of both genders,” Wagner said. “I want to show them that science is cool and that learning is fun.”

She said her spirituality was the final reason she decided to become a part of ACE.

“I model my classroom on Catholic ideals of service and love,” Wagner said. “I see teaching as a way to be selfless, to take my love of learning and give it to [my students].”

The next speaker, fellow Mike Comuniello, also found inspiration in the idea of selflessness. He spoke about the summer experience and courses that are taken at Notre Dame previous to the start of both academic years.

“It was no longer learning for my own education,” he said. “Everything I did, I had my students in mind.”

Comuniello highlighted the importance of finding ways to lead, but also to walk with, the students.

“You are there for them, and every other ACE teacher I know has the same zeal and passion for their students,” he said.

The final major speaker of the night was ACE assistant director Alec Torigian, who asked the room something that he promised, as a teacher, he did not often request: that everyone take out their cell phones. Using the website Kahoot, he had the room answer multiple-choice questions about the purpose of community within a service program. He spoke about the community created within the classroom but also between fellows.

“The disciples were sent in groups – they were meant to go together,” he said. “Your efforts will be magnified when you work with others to make your community better.”

Gelchion delivered closing remarks, saying ACE fellows can witness or participate in miracles. He told the story of one of his students, a girl who, in the face of great suffering and adversity, was still strong enough to graduate college.

“What you do will matter,” he said. “And if this is something God is calling you to do, we are here to help you.”

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