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Forming Catholic Educators at Providence Cristo Rey

Allie Griffith (second from right) with the other five Indianapolis ACE Teaching Fellows

Providence Cristo Rey is proud to have partnerships with two Catholic teaching programs run by the University of Notre Dame, ECHO Teaching Theology and the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE).

Kelsey Hayes (ECHO - Theology), Andrew Jansen (ACE - History), and Imani Bunn (ACE - Biology) are second year teachers with these programs at Providence Cristo Rey. Read their interview from last year to learn why they chose to begin their careers in Catholic education.

ACE is a two-year program, and teachers are usually placed in schools with low-income or immigrant populations. ACE Fellows earn a Masters in Education from the University of Notre Dame during this two-year period and live in community with other Fellows.

Our newest ACE Teaching Fellow is Allie Griffith. Allie currently teaches sophomore and junior English, and is originally from Akron, Ohio. We talked with her about her first year in the ACE program.

Allie, why did you choose to apply to the ACE program?

I learned about ACE from other girls in my dorm who were planning to apply. I looked up to them, and decided to find out more. I applied early, and was accepted to the program in April of my junior year.

ACE seemed like a special way to share my love of reading and writing with others. "I double majored in English and American Studies. My dad is an English teacher in Akron, so I grew up knowing that teaching was a good option.

Why is Catholic education important to you?

I think Catholic schools prioritize students as children of God first. We are educating our students' minds and hearts, which is really special. I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through college. To me, Catholic school culture really makes it known that a student will be cared about beyond what kind of grades they get.

What has surprised you about being a teacher?

Honestly, it's how much I am learning from my students. Providence Cristo Rey is so different from my high school experience. Our students balance class, work study, family responsibilities, sports, and more. I have an incredible amount of respect for them.

I also really love having an English classroom! It provides students with an opportunity to talk about life lessons beyond the classroom. Novels, short stories, poems - all of these can help you open up or think about things in new ways.

I think words and writing are such powerful tools in any career. Being able to convey your thoughts and feelings is so valuable. Beyond the standards they need to master, I want my students to be able to know that the way they communicate with people is important.

All ACE Fellows in a particular city live in the same house. What has living in community been like for you?

The community aspect was something that drew me to ACE. I think that people in the program have their heart in it for the right reasons. It is encouraging to come home after a long day and feel supported. Three of my housemates are second year teachers, and it is so nice to get their advice. They are great role models for us first-year teachers. It is also intentional and uplifting from a faith perspective. We have group prayer once a week, we go to mass together, we have community meals - we are more than just roommates.

What are some of the other aspects of the ACE program that you like?

I feel really blessed to be part of such an amazing national program. We had a retreat in December where all of the ACE Fellows came together to reflect. It was special to find common ground with teachers that are in classrooms across the country.

My mentor teacher at Providence Cristo Rey, Frances Klein, has also been a huge support to me. She has taken me under her wing and gone above and beyond. She is extremely organized and works well with the students in a way that is patient, yet firm. I try to model the way she gives students structure and remains kind to them.

I am already excited for next year. I know Providence Cristo Rey really cares about these kids. That constantly encourages me.

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