The world of Catholic education is a tight network woven together by innovation focused on specific goals. The main goals are success for Catholic schools and providing excellent education for children through a Catholic worldview.
Partnership with the University of Notre Dame has benefitted many Catholic schools in the Diocese of Phoenix in three specific areas—the Alliance for Catholic Education Program (ACE) provides Teaching Fellows, the Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) help schools improve Latino outreach and cultural understanding, and the Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) is equipping schools with tools to welcome exceptional learners.
For more than a decade, ACE Teaching Fellows have worked in Catholic schools in Phoenix. The ACE Program attracts college graduates who seek to “renew and transform Catholic school classrooms” while simultaneously earning a master’s degree in education and getting on-the-job experience during the two year program. ACE Fellows are usually placed in high-need schools—environments where the teachers are challenged to do their best every day to foster academic excellence as well as spiritual growth. The motto of ACE partner schools is to prepare students for College and Heaven.
The Diocese of Phoenix currently hosts first and second year ACE Teaching Fellows at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School in Glendale, St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School, and St. John Vianney Catholic School. Ella Baxter, currently in her second year at St. John Vianney, was inspired to be an ACE Fellow by the wonderful teachers she had as a Catholic school student. “I think ACE does a wonderful job of teaching practices to help students develop academically but also to help them grow in their faith,” said Baxter. “It’s also inspiring to be surrounded by so many different people who have committed themselves to Catholic Education.”
Another second year ACE Fellow who is currently serving at St. Vincent de Paul, Jeff Nosek, said he chose to teach middle school students in the program because of his own rough middle school experience. “I know this transition to adolescence can be difficult, and I wanted to help my students navigate a challenging time in their lives,” said Nosek. “I love being able to walk along with them and support them in becoming who God made them to be.”
Nosek has bonded with his students and said they surprise him every day. They made his birthday very special this year. “Students brought gifts—homemade cards, hand-made rosaries, and a bracelet made by several of the students,” reminisced Nosek. “After singing Happy Birthday, a student raised his hand and asked if they could all go around and say one thing they appreciate about me. I felt appreciated and loved that day!”
Doug Weivoda, principal at St. John Vianney Catholic School, has hosted ACE teachers since 2013 when he took the helm. Weivoda credits the leadership and vision of the Congregation of Holy Cross, who founded both the University of Notre Dame and St. John Vianney Catholic School, for the strong, supportive relationship that has been in place for so many years. St. John Vianney Catholic School has thrived under the leadership of Fr. Joe Corpora, CSC, who founded the school in 1992, followed by Fr. John Herman, CSC, and currently by Fr. Tom Eckert, CSC. “Our partnership with Notre Dame is in our DNA,” quipped Weivoda.
Many ACE Fellows that have served in our schools have continued on after their graduation from the ACE program and their requisite two years of teaching. Two ACE Fellows from St. John Vianney have gone on to study administration in the Remick Leadership Program at the University of Notre Dame as well. Nicole Walsh, currently a teacher at Most Holy Trinity in Phoenix, and Ryan Costello, who has remained at St. John Vianney and taken on leadership duties over the years, are success stories of ACE Fellows in our schools. “ACE teachers have done an outstanding job,” said Weivoda, who will continue to welcome ACE Fellows at his school in the future.
The partnership between the Diocese of Phoenix Catholic Schools and the University of Notre Dame extends into two other areas of significance—special education and Latino outreach. Check out the January CEA Newsletter to learn more about these partnerships and programs.
Catholic Education Arizona supports all of the schools in the Diocese of Phoenix in an effort to make it possible for Catholic education to be affordable and accessible to any family that desires one. To learn more about the schools in the Diocese of Phoenix, click here.