Graduates to serve in under-resourced schools
Carolyn Hutyra | Friday, May 16, 2014
With senior year at a close, students are combining final celebrations with preparations for upcoming employment, graduate schools and volunteer positions. This year, 95 recent college graduates will venture to more than 35 cities across the nation to take on full-time teaching positions through the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE).
According to ACE co-founder Fr. Sean McGraw, 48 Notre Dame graduates will begin the ACE program, a two-year service assignment combined with a Masters in Education, aimed at assisting under-resourced Catholic schools across the nation.
“The mission of ACE is to strengthen and sustain Catholic schools and transform Catholic schools throughout the United States,” he said.
McGraw said the program invites recent college graduates to explore teaching as a potential vocation and serve as teachers in areas in need of energetic, faith-filled educators ready to use their talents to help young children discover their own gifts.
“We want talented, smart, generous, adventuresome students who are willing to do whatever it takes to help kids learn,” he said. “I think there are a lot of unknowns in terms of you don’t know where you’re going to get sent, and you’ve never taught before.”
The first year of teaching is one of the biggest challenges for an educator, and McGraw said it in some ways requires students to take a leap of faith in using their gifts to teach.
Senior Matt Jewell said he decided he wanted to pursue a teaching career at the end of his freshman year at Notre Dame. After his advisor suggested ACE as a potential graduate program, Jewell said the more he looked into it, the more interested he became.
“I remember how much of a difference having great teachers made to me, and I’m thankful for the opportunities that I’ve had to get to where I am in life now,” he said. “I already knew I wanted to teach, so it’s nice to be giving back while also doing what I love. It’s a win-win.”
Jewell said he was randomly assigned to a school in south-central Los Angeles and will teach every subject in his fourth grade classroom.
“I’m just excited to get into a classroom and get started with teaching,” he said. “I also can’t wait to get to know the other ACE members in Los Angeles.”
Senior Kelsie Corriston will also serve in the Los Angeles area later this year teaching third graders at Our Lady of Victory elementary school in Compton, Calif. She said she applied to ACE because she has always had an interest in education.
“I’m an [Education, Schooling and Society] minor here and so I figured that I wanted to teach after college, but I also wanted to do service, and I also wanted to get my Masters, so the program was a perfect fit,” she said.
Corriston said she heard about ACE during the spring of her first year through her First Year of Studies adviser. After taking a one-credit course, “Giving Back through Education,” she said she knew she wanted to both teach and serve.
“I’ve always felt like my best self and my most useful self when I’ve done service,” she said. “I’ve done a lot through the [Center for Social Concerns] … I did a [Summer Service Learning Program] and an [International Summer Service Learning Program] this past summer.
“On a personal level I feel like our education and everything else that we get from Notre Dame and other places aren’t really worth it until you take what you’ve learned and apply it to the world, and in my case that’s been through service … that’s where I’ve felt the most joy in my life.”