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‘ACE Night’ recruits fellows

| Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wednesday night, the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) held its second annual “ACE Night” information session for students considering applying for the post-graduate teaching organization. Students who participate in ACE teach during the school year and attend graduate school at Notre Dame during the summer to earn their Master’s degree in education.

Senior Margaret Prakel works for ACE as a student intern, and has committed to teaching for two years after graduation.

“ACE is a two-year graduate program started by Fr. [Tim] Scully, and it’s a way for recent college graduates to get into the education system and take their education and affect those who are younger,” Prakel said.

Fr. Tim Scully, CSC, and Fr. Sean McGraw, CSC, co-founded ACE in 1993, according to the organization’s website. McGraw spoke at Wednesday’s event, recalling his early involvement in the founding of ACE.

“Fr. Scully asked me to help him with a ‘little project,’” McGraw said. “I didn’t know him well enough at the time to know he didn’t have ‘little projects.’”

In its first year, ACE sent 40 teachers to eight cities in the South, according to McGraw. This year, between 90 and 95 students will be accepted for the program; roughly half of these students will be from Notre Dame, while the others will come from other universities, according to Matt Gelchion, ACE’s recruiting coordinator.

Gelchion, who graduated form Notre Dame in 2009 and went on to teach social studies and religious with ACE, spoke briefly about the purpose of “ACE Night.” He said the goal was more to help students ascertain why they would be interested in joining the program, rather than the intricate details of how it works.

“We’re hoping tonight not to so much answer the what and where of ACE, not necessarily the locations or exactly what an ACE teacher will do during the summer; we’re trying to answer the why,” Gelchion said. “In other words, why do we believe ACE is so important? Why has this changed our lives? Why do we believe so strongly in this mission?”

Gelchion said that the staff hopes to identify students who would be good matches to join the seven seniors who have already committed to ACE through the internship program.

“There are three pillars of our program: teacher formation, community and spirituality,” Gelchion said. “We’re looking for candidates who are well-rounded in those three areas. But more than that we’re looking for students who are able to form k-12 students in those same areas, so to form them as learners; to form them as citizens; to form them into people who are going to grow closer to God.

“We’re looking for people who will put these students on the path to college and heaven,” he said.

John Schoenig, director of teacher formation and education policy, had a specific vision for how to measure the success of the ACE Teaching Fellows.

“Everyone has a story,” Schoenig said. “What we do here is change stories, in little and big ways. The one thing we should be measured by is, in 100 years, how many saints came out of this program both from its teachers and from its students.”

The presentation also included a video, showcasing several Notre Dame graduates who are first-year “ACErs.”

Alumna Mary Kate Veselik, ’14, who is teaching second graders in New Orleans, said that every day brought a unique experience.

“It’s fun and challenging,” Veselik said of ACE. “Not matter what, at the end of the day you’ll be challenged, and you’ll come out of it a different person.”

Senior intern Grace Carroll ended the evening by describing her own journey that led her to join ACE, citing several teachers whose dedication inspired her to “be for someone else who those people were to [her].”

“You cannot help but be inspired by the zeal and enthusiasm of present and former ACErs,” Carroll said.

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About Margaret Hynds

Margaret is a senior Political Science major and the former Editor-in-Chief of The Observer. She hails from Washington, D.C., and is a former Phox of Pangborn Hall. Follow Margaret on Twitter @MargaretHynds

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