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ACE to undertake academy program

NORA KENNEY | Friday, February 5, 2010

Although the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) is best known for placing Notre Dame graduates in Catholic schools around the nation to help with academics, the program is now expanding with the induction of new ACE Academies.

In schools that are designated as ACE Academies, the ACE program will provide support in every area, including curriculum, instruction, assessment, financial management, school leadership, development, marketing and Catholic identity.

Currently, there are three ACE Academies — all of which are located in Tucson, Ariz.
“[There is an] enormous, vibrant Catholic community [in Tucson] that is so under-served and so eager for the kind of support that the ACE Program hopes to provide,” Dr. Christian Dallavis, a faculty member who works with ACE, said.

Sarah Greene, Assistant Director for the ACE Program, said the community in Tucson provided the perfect setting for the inception of the first ACE Academies.

“It’s an incredible place, a loving and caring environment for the ACE teachers, and a great way for them to serve the school which is predominantly Latino,” Greene said. 

Kaitlyn O’Leary, a Notre Dame graduate who works at one of the ACE Academies in Tucson in Santa Cruz, said she coaches basketball, volleyball and track and field in addition to teaching language arts.

“I have fallen in love with the community at Santa Cruz,” she said. “The school maintains a strong Catholic and Mexican identity. The community here has truly embraced me. I am constantly invited to birthday parties, family parties, etc.”

O’Leary said Tucson provided the perfect site for ACE to try out the new program.

“The sense of family at this school is unlike anything I have ever experienced.  Everyone is excited about the ACE Academies initiative, as we think it will promote further excellence at our school and provide us with some resources that we are lacking,” she said.

Dallavis said the ACE Academy idea originated from the extra help the program gave St. Adalbert’s, a Magnificat school in South Bend that serves a primarily Latino population.

“The Notre Dame ACE Academy is an evolution of that academic help we gave to St. Adalbert’s, but the new model will also focus on things like budget, fund-raising, and hiring the school leaders,” Dallavis said.