The University of Notre Dame has sent six young teachers to work in Catholic schools in Mobile as part of the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program. Now in its fourteenth year, the ACE program matches recent college graduates with Catholic schools in need. The benefit to the schools is the presence of enthusiastic, energetic, young teachers who serve as extraordinary role models for their students. In many ways, ACE placement is considered a term of service, and the teachers are given only a modest stipend for their work. They live in community and share in a common prayer life.
The ACE program has grown in scope and number through the years. What began as a fledgling experiment in a handful of schools has become a gift to thirty-two Catholic communities reaching from North Carolina to California. There are nearly 200 teachers in the program this year.
ACE teachers are not only teachers, but students as well. In addition to two years of classroom placement in the schools where they work, they spend two summers on the campus of Notre Dame, completing work to earn a Master of Education degree. When asked about the work required of them, one student commented that it is hard to say which is more demanding, their time teaching or the rigorous demands of the master’s program. But there is no equivocation about the end result. The sense of pride in their gift of service is a comfortable balance for the pride in the achievement of the master’s degree.
Four Catholic schools in Mobile are the current beneficiaries of ACE. Most Pure Heart of Mary and McGill-Toolen Catholic High each have two ACE teachers this year. Little Flower and St. Pius X each have one ACE teacher. Every ACE teacher has a local mentor to help them through the year, and each school provides support and encouragement to the young teachers who are far from home. This year, ACE Mobile has teachers from as far away as Michigan, Washington State, and even Australia.
In addition to the ACE teachers serving in Mobile, a local Mobile couple, Dr. and Mrs. Dick Duffey, are proud parents of an ACE graduate, and a current ACE teacher serving in Fort Worth, Texas.
The original story can be found in The Catholic Week of Mobile, Alabama.