Notre Dame’s ACE program is new step on the archdiocese’s Roadmap for Excellence in Catholic Education

| Debbie Musser | September 18, 2019 | 0 Comments
Newly-arrived teachers from the University of Notre Dame

Newly-arrived teachers from the University of Notre Dame, from left, Michael Kenney, Katie Ward, Sam Deitschel and Lucas Masin-Moyer, all part of the university’s Alliance for Catholic Education post-graduate program. COURTESY ALLIANCE FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION

As a new fourth-grade teacher at St. John Paul II Catholic School in Minneapolis, Katie Ward said she loves working with the students.

“Each scholar is such a meaningful part of our classroom community, and I am really enjoying getting to know them and the gifts they bring to the class,” she said.

Ward is just getting her bearings, not only at St. John Paul II, but in the profession. And she is sharing that experience with three other instructors new to teaching and to Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

They are part of a program for students getting their master’s degrees at the University of Notre Dame called the Alliance for Catholic Education. Fresh off a summer of intense study at Notre Dame, they are the first from that program to serve in the archdiocese.

Gayle Stoffel, associate director of the Office for the Mission of Catholic Education, said working with ACE is enriching the archdiocese’s strategic approach to talent management as outlined in its Roadmap for Excellence in Catholic Education. Announced in January, the Roadmap focuses on talent management, curriculum and metrics, access and sustainability, mission schools and local governance.

“For over 25 years, ACE has excelled in forming aspiring teachers with the aptitude, imagination and zeal to strengthen Catholic education as both professional educators and witnesses of Christ the teacher,” Stoffel said. “We are overjoyed to welcome the ACE teaching fellows and support them in their formation, especially at this time in the life of the archdiocese.”

John Schoenig, senior director of teacher formation and education policy for ACE, said the program takes recent college graduates and “forms them as Catholic school teachers.”

“They do this over two years, living in small communities with other ACE teachers, taking course work and completing a practicum, that concludes with a fully-funded master’s degree from Notre Dame,” Schoenig said.

The ACE teaching fellows live together in St. Paul. In addition to Ward, Samantha Deitschel is teaching at Hill-Murray and Michael Kenney is serving at St. Jerome, both in Maplewood. Lucas Masin-Moyer is teaching at Blessed Trinity in Richfield.

Each has special support from Katie Moran, ACE associate program director. Moran grew up in the Twin Cities, attending Our Lady of Grace School in Edina and Visitation School in Mendota Heights before graduating from Notre Dame. She, too, served as an ACE teaching fellow, instructing middle school students in math, science and religion in Indianapolis.

“Those were by far the most challenging and yet formative and fulfilling two years of my life thus far,” Moran said. “As pastoral supervisor, I have had the pleasure of spending time with the teaching fellows on campus this summer and will visit them once per semester during the school year, going to their classrooms and St. Paul home, sharing meals and checking in with each of them one-on-one.”

According to Schoenig, the majority of teachers come into ACE with relatively little background in education. Yet 70 percent of the 2,000 ACE graduates remain in education.

“Young people today have a real desire to live a life of meaning, and in that regard, teaching stands alone, building a world for a set of kids,” he said. “There’s also a missionary zeal amongst young people, to live a life of adventure, and to be around people they want to be with. ACE offers those opportunities.”

Established in 1994, ACE now places more than 180 college graduates in 130 Catholic schools throughout 31 dioceses/archdioceses in 16 states each year. Schoenig said about half of a typical cohort are UND graduates, and the rest come from universities nationwide.

Tricia Menzhuber, principal at St. John Paul II School in Minneapolis, said she was an ACE teaching fellow, and she enjoys supporting Ward at her school. A graduate of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Menzhuber served as an ACE teaching fellow at an all-female high school in southeast Los Angeles.

“ACE built a Catholic school champion in me for life,” Menzhuber said. “I am blessed to have a beautiful vocation, and I know that Katie is a part of a community that will challenge her in the best of ways.”

Meet the ACE Teaching Fellows

Samantha Deitschel

Graduated: University of Dallas, majoring in history and theology.

Assignment: Middle school social studies and campus ministry, Hill-Murray, Maplewood.

“My faith had everything to do with my decision to join ACE. I hope to gain the confidence and skills to become a great teacher, and I hope to be changed by my students for the better.”

Michael Kenney

Graduated: University of Notre Dame, majoring in American studies, minoring in theology and entrepreneurship.

Assignment: Middle school language arts and religion, St. Jerome, Maplewood.

“For me, a true education is unsatisfying if not rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition. Through ACE, I sought to pay forward the opportunities I have experienced because of my education in Catholic schools.”

Lucas Masin-Moyer

Graduated: University of Notre Dame, majoring in American studies and political science.

Assignment: Fifth/Sixth grade language arts, social studies and religion, Blessed Trinity, Richfield.

“With ACE, I’m able to hone my teaching skills alongside some of the best and most passionate people I know. Despite the summer’s busyness with new classes and student teaching, it’s been very fun and rewarding.”

Katie Ward

Graduated: University of Notre Dame, majoring in music and Spanish, minoring in education and Catholic social tradition.

Assignment: Fourth grade, St. John Paul II School, Minneapolis.

“There’s a large immigrant community at John Paul II, and I’m excited to get to know my students and integrate their culture into the classroom.”

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