Dr. John Staud: Education, Renewed.

Think. Pair. Share. Podcast Transcript

0:00:09.1 Audrey Scott: Welcome to this modern education podcast that explores learning, from the everyday exchange of thoughts and ideas to the theories and practices behind entire systems. Think education is cool? So do we. So we pair two conversations: Learn about our guests, then learn from our guests. Share your takeaways and come back for more. You're listening to Think. Pair. Share., with me, Audrey Scott. 

Dr. John Staud is the Executive Director of the University of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education program. Starting over two decades ago, John has helped lead the recruitment, selection, placement, and formation of teachers in under-resourced Catholic schools in over 30 cities across the United States, and his role has grown to include leading the pastoral formation and administrative areas of ACE's growing number of initiatives. We've long hoped he'd be our guest, and I'm so glad to have him joining us today from our studio in the beautiful new Remick Family Hall, where our colleague Steve McClure helped him get miked for our conversation. It's my great pleasure to welcome him to Think. Pair. Share. Hi there, guys!
0:01:17.8 John Staud: Here we go. Take your screenshot without my glasses!
0:01:23.0 Steve McClure: Okay, let's... Audrey!
0:01:25.6 JS: No, I'm kidding. Hi, Audrey.
0:01:27.1 AS: Hi, John. Welcome to the podcast.
0:01:29.5 JS: Thanks, it's great to be here.
0:01:31.1 AS: We have the master at work, John.
0:01:32.8 JS: Yes.
0:01:34.0 SM: And... Yeti. Okay, now, you can put these on.
0:01:38.7 JS: Oh, I can put the headphones on.
0:01:40.0 SM: Yes.
0:01:41.4 JS: Makes me look official.
0:01:42.8 AS: Yes.
0:01:43.1 SM: But this is what Audrey's hearing right now.
0:01:45.1 JS: Okay. Wow, these aren't like... Beats...
0:01:48.3 SM: They aren't sound cancelers, no.
0:01:49.2 JS: Oh, okay, okay.
0:01:50.9 AS: Steve, so you've already started recording on the Zoom recorder?
0:01:53.5 SM: Yeah, the Zoom has been going for a few minutes.
0:01:55.4 AS: Okay, great, thanks.
0:01:56.1 SM: You're gonna hear a little bit about Liverpool and our... Our quest. We're challenging for four trophies right now. We've got two.
0:02:02.8 JS: Has that ever been done before?
0:02:03.9 SM: Never been done.
0:02:04.6 JS: Wow!
0:02:05.9 AS: Now John, are you also a Liverpool fan?
0:02:08.7 JS: I am because my son is, and it's... You know, he's a Steeler fan and a Notre Dame fan because of me. And I would say I am a Liverpool fan, and... You know, a LeBron James fan maybe because of him, so... Yeah.
0:02:23.9 AS: Oh, that's great. Yeah, I am, I think, a Liverpool fan because of Steve.
0:02:28.5 JS: Okay.
0:02:28.9 AS: So Steve, I'm gonna find something for you to be a fan of because of me.
0:02:32.7 JS: You'll never walk alone, Audrey. [laughter] See?
0:02:36.8 AS: I love it. Thank you, Steve. And now...
0:02:38.6 JS: Thanks, Steve.
0:02:39.5 SM: You got it. You good?
0:02:41.6 AS: Thank you.
0:02:41.7 SM: You know, when I came down here, I was worried, because there was a high-pitched squeal. There was humming, and it was consistent, but it's gone.
0:02:48.3 AS: Oh, thank God. I hear it.
0:02:48.6 SM: And now I just... Hear the AC sound.
0:02:50.4 JS: Okay.
0:02:52.3 SM: You might... Actually, you might be hearing something through this.
0:02:56.2 JS: Slight. Well, I made the claim last night, when Jenny and I... Because of her sister's instigation to the spirit animal quiz.
0:03:04.0 SM: Oh, yeah.
0:03:04.3 JS: What is your spirit animal?
0:03:05.6 AS: Yes.
0:03:05.8 JS: One of the questions was "What sense of yours is the most acute?"
0:03:10.1 SM: Yeah.
0:03:11.1 JS: And clearly, it isn't my eyes. I have bad sinuses, taste doesn't bother me, and I'm like, touch is just generic, so I had to go hearing, you know? Which is a noteworthy thing after years of listening to The Who and Zeppelin at the Times.
0:03:25.5 SM: Yes.
0:03:27.2 AS: That is so funny. I actually asked him; I was like, I feel like one of the first things I remember... I think you were telling a story about the Smashing Pumpkins. And I... Oh gosh, 'cause I also lived in Chicago for a number of years, and I thought, well, that's awesome that you are a fan, yes?
0:03:42.5 JS: I am! Yeah! We were in Nashville for a family reunion, all the girls were going to Grand Ole Opry, and I just Googled "What's at Bridgestone?", and it was the Pumpkins, and I could get tickets for 20 bucks. Five of us went: My brother-in-law and his two sons and Joe. They covered Stairway to Heaven; I was so in bliss.
0:04:02.4 AS: Do you like Rush?
0:04:04.1 JS: Yeah! Working Man, Subdivisions...
0:04:07.4 AS: Okay.
0:04:07.9 JS: Awesome!
0:04:08.0 AS: Alright.
0:04:08.6 JS: Yeah.
0:04:08.7 AS: Okay.
0:04:09.5 JS: Do you?
0:04:09.7 AS: Spoiler... I... My friend, father Neil Walk, loves Rush.
0:04:13.7 JS: Oh! He loves Rush. Yeah.
0:04:15.4 AS: He loves... So you know him well.
0:04:17.0 JS: Yeah, he was a pastor or whatever the... He's like, "I love Rush!"
0:04:21.1 AS: I went to school with Neil, so then... So we'll have to have a cup of coffee sometime. I just remember getting these from him most of all.
0:04:27.8 AS: So when I was prepping for today's fun questions, spoiler alert, it's a graduation theme, which is the season. Rush came up under my search for Pomp and Circumstance. I think part of that is from a song of theirs, I guess, so, we could probably chat about music all day long, so we better jump into those fun questions first, so here we go.
0:04:46.1 JS: Sounds good, Audrey.
0:04:47.1 AS: Since you are, in part, an English Lit person, true or false: The term bachelor in bachelor's degree is from baccalaureate, a play on the Latin words "bacca lauri", meaning laurel berries.
0:05:00.8 JS: I say true.
0:05:03.3 AS: It's too detailed not to be, right?
0:05:06.8 JS: Would you go to such effort for a false? Exactly.
0:05:09.9 AS: Okay. The youngest known college graduate was 10, 11, or 12 years old.
0:05:15.3 JS: I'll go 11.
0:05:17.5 AS: 10: He was... Yeah, former child prodigy Michael Kearney, graduated from the University of South Alabama in '94 at the age of 10.
0:05:26.9 JS: What's he doing now?
0:05:28.5 AS: Ooh, good follow-up question. Stay tuned for the extras after the podcast. I'll find out. I'll find out. Okay, which is older: The iPhone or the class of 2022?
0:05:39.3 JS: The class of 2022.
0:05:41.8 AS: Yes. Good job, yes. 2007 was the iPhone, and we're looking at, I guess, 2001-ish for most of the... Except for, of course, this Michael Kearney and his buddies. They... [chuckle]
0:05:52.4 JS: Yeah, exactly.
0:05:53.8 AS: Okay, the traditional graduation gown was born out of a sense of fashion in Italy or out of necessity to keep warm?
0:06:02.3 JS: I would say out of necessity, with no central heating.
0:06:06.6 AS: Yes. Back in the day, back in the... Way back, middle ages, I guess, poor heating, scholars wore long gowns and hoods to keep warm. And so, most of the scholars were also clerics, so they tended to wear clerical robes. Okay. True or false: The commencement cap is called mortar board because of its resemblance to a masonry tool of the same name.
0:06:27.9 JS: False.
0:06:28.9 AS: It's true. [chuckle] It's a tricky one. It's said to have been developed in the 15th century, evolving from hats known as birettas, perhaps you're familiar with these; square upright caps used by Catholic clerics, scholars, and professors, and were thus named because of their similarity to the mortar board used by bricklayers. Sort of a random... Aren't a lot of things that shape? But, oh well, we'll go with it. Okay, so are you a toss the cap or keep it firmly on your head?
0:06:57.7 JS: I never wear it. C.
0:07:01.6 AS: Going off the board for a daily double. I guess the US Navy were sort of credited in the early 1900s for tossing their caps, 'cause they got a different one at the end of it, so they didn't need the... Need the other one anymore, but... Okay, move the tassel from the right to the left, or left to right?
0:07:19.3 JS: I think it's right to left.
0:07:21.5 AS: Yep, absolutely.
0:07:22.3 JS: Okay.
0:07:22.8 AS: Yep, good job. I think at the time, I was...
0:07:24.6 JS: I'm just trying to picture this weekend, what they were doing.
0:07:27.2 AS: Yeah, so it says "Right to left symbolizes a movement from being a candidate of a degree to a recipient of a degree." And speaking of a certain new recipient of his degree, 28 years in the making, Jerome Bettis, running back for the Irish in the '90s, who made and kept his promise to his mother to graduate from Notre Dame, what team did he play for in the NFL?
0:07:49.2 JS: Now you're just baiting me here. Clearly, the Pittsburgh Steelers was his... He started with the Rams but came to the Steelers, and... A steel of all steels, so...
0:08:00.0 AS: [chuckle] That's so true. That is so true. Bonus points for his nickname.
0:08:03.0 JS: Wow. When he was... When Jenkins called him up, I screamed at the top of my lungs, "Yeah, Bus!", embarrassing even my son.
0:08:11.2 AS: [chuckle] Love it. Well, I'm sure Mr. Bettis probably appreciated that. His speech was so... So nice. I really, really liked that.
0:08:19.1 JS: Yeah, it was beautiful.
0:08:20.4 AS: Yeah, very nice, yeah, very nice, all the way around. And yes, I figured if I'm giving you a mortar board question, I can at least give you a fun gimme from Pittsburgh. So, since that wasn't overly subtle... But I wanted to get us to Pittsburgh, your hometown, right? Yeah, you have a pretty deep-seated love for that city. I'd love to hear a little bit more about why you think it's so special.
0:08:42.2 JS: Well, it's home. And I grew up in the '70s, when the Pittsburgh economy was really going downhill. And... So I guess my love affair with Pittsburg is very much related to its sports teams. The Pirates and the Steelers were really excellent in the '70s, and it kinda gave everyone something to cling to. But I love the geography of it; I love the hills. And here I live in Indiana. But I love the hills, and just the people... The people in my neighborhood growing up was kind of a blue collar suburb, not too far from the downtown. And it was kind of a Charlie Brown world, where parents weren't... You'd just say, "I'll be back for lunch, I'll be back to dinner," and everyone kinda raised everyone else's kids in a way, and... You know, I just kinda treasure that upbringing, and some of the best people I've known just... They'd do anything for you, so...
0:09:35.9 AS: I see you have carried that tradition with you here. I think that's your style here as well, so we're certainly grateful for that.
0:09:43.3 JS: Oh, you're very kind.
0:09:45.2 AS: Sure, of course. Did your dad follow the sports as well, or was your whole family in on it, or...
0:09:50.5 JS: Yeah, my dad, definitely. My mother, not at all. She was sort of appalled that I would waste so much time. But... Yeah, my dad and I would kinda wear out the couch trying to help the running back find the hole, you know? And... So, yeah, it kinda came from my father above all.
0:10:10.5 AS: How about like, I don't know as much about the Pirates. Was that something that you guys listened to, or...
0:10:15.4 JS: Oh yeah, they were excellent in the '70s. I... One of my first memories, first grade... Really, two of them. I remember the final out, when the Pirates beat the Orioles in game seven to win it all, and my dad... We were in the kitchen, and there's this little black and white TV; it was all we had. He just lifted me up in the air, and I banged my head on the ceiling, and I just remember being, like, kinda crying but happy and... All at the same time, and my mom yelling at him that it's only a game, and I knew that she didn't really understand. So that was just a great moment, and then... Back then, they used to play day games for the World Series during the weekday.
0:10:53.0 JS: And I remember in first grade, sister Mary Rose, I kinda knew how to read a little bit, and I also knew baseball enough, so she had this little transistor radio, and the game probably started around, I don't know, 1:30 or so, so we had another hour at least at school, and she said, "Okay, your job, John, is to sit at my desk and you're gonna listen, and every half inning, I want you to come and tell me, while I work around the room with various groups, what happened." And I've had a love affair with school ever since. So yeah, the Pirates were great. I remember crying when Roberto Clemente was tragically killed ferrying relief supplies to Nicaragua after the earthquake, and... There was no internet, obviously, in the day, and we found out about it at mass on New Year's Day, when they had one of the Prayers of the Faithful for him, and... I looked at my mom, and I said... I just kinda, "What are the Pirates gonna do?", and she kinda whacked me and said "That man has a family!" But that was, in some ways, like, my first real encounter with grief. So... Kinda deep affection for Clemente and the Pirates during the '70s, and then they won again in '79. Since then, they've been... Just arguably the... One of the worst teams in baseball, but... Yeah.
0:12:02.8 AS: Those roots run deep, though; that's...
0:12:03.7 JS: The seeds were planted early, yeah.
0:12:05.8 AS: Yeah, that's sweet, that's sweet. And I had mine with the Cubs, of course, and I was still living in Chicago when they finally won it again, so I also cried. [chuckle] But maybe... But I didn't hit my head, but I still cried. That was a... That was a beautiful day there.
0:12:20.6 JS: Sure.
0:12:21.2 AS: So, I can... I can understand some of that sort of long, deep love for... For the teams. But thanks for sharing those stories.
0:12:29.1 JS: Sure.
0:12:29.8 AS: Oh my gosh, yeah. [chuckle] I have to love your mom. She was patient with his love for all the sports.
0:12:34.2 JS: Yeah, yeah, patient. I also got my love of reading from my mother. My father... I don't know if he read a book in his adult life. Magazines and the newspaper, but my mom was always rationing TV. I get the Steeler exemption. But... Yeah, she kind of, I think, is responsible for my love of reading, so...
0:12:55.5 AS: That's good. Well, you ended up actually... English literature, right? But also chemical engineering, so we can focus on the literature, which might have been her gift. I'm not sure where the chemical... Tell us where the... Where those came in.
0:13:04.9 JS: Yeah, you know, I had... My grandfather was a powerful influence on me. He only went to eighth grade, and then he began working. And my dad had gone to school on the GI Bill after the Korean War. My mom had never gone to college. Late in her life, she took a few college courses. But, you know, I was, I guess, pretty good in math and science, and... You know, my grandfather was like, "You should be an engineer. You know, you'll always have work." And I was like, "Okay." So I... I did that. And then... Notre Dame had that wonderful tool degree program, so I didn't have to decide, at 18, on a particular path. And I think organic chemistry was the stick. And then Tom were just English classes, of which I took, I think, four was the carrot. And I began to rethink what I might wanna do with my life. And...
0:13:53.0 JS: Again, I thought, "This professor thing would be great, 'cause you got the summer off, and... " I never felt like I needed a lot of money, but I would treasure the time. I was hoping to, you know, obviously, get married and have a family, and I thought, "Oh, I can take the kids fishing, and play baseball, and do all kinds of things in the summer." So I decided to pivot and go to grad school in English, and my grandfather was a little crestfallen. He says, "Look, I love to read, but I... You know... Still, practice your math, you know, when you're up at Michigan." And it's like... I'm kinda done with math, but... I suppose that's why I ended up going into chemical engineering in some ways, is my grandfather, so...
0:14:28.7 JS: I was really blessed that my family was supportive, and I never felt pressured to use college as a means to a lucrative job. Which, in some ways, when I look at the fairly humble roots I came from, that was just kind of remarkable. My dad always said to my sister and me, "Look, I've had to do a job I don't like to feed and educate you all," and he says, "I'm happy to do that." My dad never had a bad day; he was always in a good mood. "But," he says, "My dream for you is that you just can, you know, get a degree and find work such that it doesn't feel like work." And for myself, I've been fortunate at ACE to... To find that. You know, I've always loved the rhythm of the academic year, and... It's kinda funny; I... I went into academia for three main reasons: June, July, and August. I like to say, "So, God has a sense of humor, and... And for my sins, I've had June and July be utterly the busiest time of the year," but... But it's been grace, and it's always fun to welcome a new cohort, and I guess I've been here to welcome many. For all I joke about the summers, I really don't feel that it's a four-letter word. So...
0:15:41.7 AS: Good. Well, I'm so glad. And you're right, I think that's a blessing. Not everybody has that sort of support in that... In that way from their family, and I think that's wonderful. Was there something that you wanted to sort of pass along to your children as well?
0:15:52.2 JS: Yes, definitely. Both my wife and I, and... And just... You know, because even just practically speaking, you spend, you know, a third of your day... Maybe not quite that, but... Sleeping, and then, you know, between all the other things... You may as well just do what you love. Find what you love and do it, and then... And then contribute to the world. So, that's obviously what we try to encourage people in ACE to do, both with the Teaching Fellows program, with the Remick program, with all our programs, to just kinda honor the great joy of being an educator. Doesn't pay much, obviously, but... You know, you'll never wonder whether what you do is important. Even if you don't know that you're effective at it all the time, and Lord knows I can look back at many times I've been ineffective, at least I always knew it mattered.
0:16:38.8 AS: I love that perspective. It's really great. Speaking of your family and ACE, so you have three children, and I... I believe the youngest?
0:16:46.7 JS: My sweet Anna, she has always loved reading, and she has the faith gene in a deep way, and when she was little, she would... They'd all come to the ACE masses with me in the summer, not because of piety, I don't think; they just like being able to stay up late. And... And then there would, you know, be maybe milkshakes after here and there. And so... And it gave my wife often a chance just to kind of grab her breath. So, Anna's been coming to ACE masses since she was probably three or four years old. And... Gosh, all the ACE teachers and Remick leaders in the past who kinda fawned over my kids and really served as these role models, in many ways. Certainly, Anna, she always used to say when she was little, "I wanna do the ACE program and then teach second grade back at Christ the King... " You know, was her parish school, "Just so I can do sacramental prep." And her older sister and brother would be like, "You're such a loser. You wanna go back there." So, you know, she has changed. She'll be teaching high school in ACE down in Mobile, Alabama at Katie Macaluso's alma mater, McGill-Toolen, and Tom Doyle's alma mater too. Tom taught there as well, and... So it's a school with a lotta history. So I feel... Feel blessed she'll be there. And I always say to everyone, I was not part of that decision. That was all Schoenig and company figuring out where she would go, so...
0:18:11.8 AS: Sounds like they... They knew pretty well that she would be a really great addition there. You've been with ACE for a number of years... Several of the early years. I think it'd be fun to kinda hear about some of your memories of how it was then, and... I believe in band hall it was, originally, and then where we are today.
0:18:27.0 JS: Sure. Well, of course, when ACE began, it was what we now call ACE Teaching Fellows. That was ACE for the first eight years before we started the... What was then the ACE Leadership Program, and then the Remick family generously endowed that program, and now of course, we refer to it as The Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program. So I came in year three, so, it would have been some... Like Theo Helm, who many people know, he would have been a brand new ACE teacher then, and... Now, Father Lou DelFra was an associate director along with me, and Lou was... Hadn't yet discovered, I guess fully, his priestly vocation. So, the early days were... Like any kind of startup, they were full of pretty sharp turns right and left, here and there, trying to figure things out, always trying to be responsive to needs of the diocese, learning tremendously from the people doing the program.
0:19:22.1 JS: We... Everyone's familiar, I think, with the... The sort of well-worn joke, that ACE was christened, always changing everything by the first cohort. And... So, you know, just trying to figure out how to do this as... As best we could. And so, fortunately, that entrepreneurial DNA has continued in the program over time, and some people on Notre Dame's campus still think that ACE means A Service through Teaching, or, you know... But now, ACE Teaching Fellows. And we just had a meeting with development where I used the analogy; it's kinda like... Yeah, the United States was first 13 colonies that became a nation, but it's grown a bit since then. So, you know, I think we probably have well over a dozen other initiatives now, which is exciting. We're always trying to do new things to meet needs as they emerge in schools and diocese. From the beginning, it was ACE teachers, and... We also learned, I think, to try to continue to get better by listening to them closely, and also to listen carefully to our partners, superintendents, pastors, principals, mentor teachers... So the word alliance was really prophetically chosen.
0:20:30.9 AS: Very true. Can you talk to me maybe about some of the early people that were inspirational or...
0:20:35.5 JS: When I came to ACE, it was still a program that was a partnership between Notre Dame and the University of Portland. When we decided to build the MED here, we needed someone who was a luminary in the field who could also be kinda tenured at Notre Dame. And so we... A professor named John Borkowski, who was kind of the largest grant-getter in the College of Arts and Letters, a psychologist, had been involved in... In the ACE program from the beginning.
0:21:03.6 JS: He tapped a friend of his, Michael Presley, and Mike was kind of a world-renowned scholar of reading cognition. And... And Mike was willing to come to Notre Dame and serve as our inaugural Academic Director of the MED, and he had such an impressive CV that it ended up being a slam dunk with the academic council, because most of the people on the council would have looked with a bit of jealousy at all that he had accomplished, so... So that was really useful. But Michael also was... His career was more focused on preparing PhD students in doing kind of high-level research. We also needed someone who could kinda get us accredited and bring the sort of pragmatism. And so, we identified a professor down at Marian College then, now Marian University, named Joyce Johnston. And Joyce agreed to join the faculty and help us get accredited. And over the years, there have just been so many... Just amazing human beings that have been involved. So, when Presley, after several years, migrated on to Michigan State, which has kind of a stellar School of Education, there was this wonderful teacher who had been involved in ACE from the third year named Tom Doyle.
0:22:12.3 JS: Tom also served in the Archdiocese in Mobile; was good friends with Gwen. And he came up in the summers to teach, and when we had this void in the... In the academic directorship, we asked Tom if he would be willing to take it on. Tom had his PhD in physics, of all things, from Notre Dame; just a brilliant man, had been educated in Catholic schools down in Mobile, and... It was a real act of love. He left his home in Montgomery, Alabama, where he was the President of the Catholic High School there, and... And came and lived in South Bend and served as our... Our second academic director. And there are so many stories of people who have kinda left their hometown to come and work here. I think of Rachel Moreno, who was from Arizona, and she had gotten her terminal degree and was working at King's College. And we were growing and we needed another academic supervisor, so we had this amazingly... She was the Arizona State Teacher of the Year, and that's why, actually, she got her PhD that came with a full scholarship. She started her graduate education, you know, as we would... She would say, a mature woman. And... And Rachel came and moved to South Bend for a number of years and was instrumental in... You know, just people like Tom and Rachel, who have now... Both of whom have passed on, are just some of the most generous, intelligent, inspirational human beings I've ever met.
0:23:41.0 JS: Gwen, this bird in Mobile, Alabama, has been one of our key partners from the very beginning. She's been on our advisory board since we started one, and... Gosh, I don't know how... Probably we've had well over 100 teachers serve in the Archdiocese in Mobile over the years, probably. I would imagine it might be getting onto 150. And... And Gwen has always been so hospitable and... And challenging. I know at the beginning, and the story I've heard, I wasn't here yet, but she... When she was approached about Notre Dame doing something to help, she says, "That's great, but I don't need a bunch of white saviors from the North coming down into our schools." And that's become, I think, just an important caution to us all that, you know, our ACE teachers certainly do contribute to their schools, but they have much to learn, and it's such an intense formation experience for them as well. And we do our best in the two summers that they have, but that's only 15 weeks, and they spend, you know, three or four times that amount of time in their schools serving, but also being served by the other faculty who mentor them, the administration that helps them become the best possible teacher that they can be. And... Yeah, Gwen... Gwen has just been... Just a dear friend and kind of a marvelous contributor to... To ACE over the years. They all sacrifice joyfully to be part of this movement and mission.
0:25:09.2 AS: You gave all these stories about some of the most wonderful people, so I appreciate you doing that.
0:25:12.1 JS: No, thanks.
0:25:13.2 AS: In the original, or sort of in the earlier years, tell me about the mission, I guess, its core mission, and why that resonates for you?
0:25:19.1 JS: Right. Right. So, we were probably in about year five or six; it may have been when the MED came to Notre Dame. The first four years the University of Portland provided the Master of Arts and Teaching Degree, and as ACE grew, it was really outstripping Portland's capacity for their faculty, who were very generous and coming here in the summers to teach, and then doing a lot of supervision far from the Northwest, 'cause we began in the Southeast. So we decided we'd really need to build an MED here at Notre Dame, and so we did. And it was around the time we had this sort of thing for the academic counsel, like what's our mission? So it was very simple at the outset, and I think it really hasn't changed too much. It's just to sustain strength and then transform K-12 Catholic schools. And it has a variety of iterations and, you know, a few more clauses and things, but that is really our focus: Just doing what we can to... To shore up and revitalize these treasures of the church, and we think national treasures as well.
0:26:21.2 AS: For sure. It's not just the Catholic school's survival, right, but the revitalization?
0:26:25.9 JS: Exactly. Ultimately, we believe that all children are made in the image and likeness of God, and that's the... That animates all that we try to do. And we believe that the study of mathematics, chemistry, history, English is a way for children to come to know God as well, and that schools need to develop their gifts, not just intellectually, but morally, socially, physically, and just holistically, and so, we need better and better Catholic schools, because we feel that the students in them, these children and youth deserve the best possible route to become who God created them to be. In the end, we focus on institutions, but it's really what those institutions can do for the students, and the families connected with them. So mediocrity isn't... That's not... Not in our DNA, we hope.
0:27:14.1 AS: No, it is not.
0:27:14.6 JS: At least we aspire to be... To be excellent in all things.
0:27:18.0 AS: I think you're on the right track there. Did a need arise... I guess this gets a little into the history, but there used to be maybe a lot of sisters and priests teaching. Can... Can you help some of our listeners understand where sort of that started to change?
0:27:34.3 JS: Sure. So, to go back to the year of my birth, kind of inauspiciously, 1965 was the apex of K-12 Catholic school enrollment in the United States, with over 5 million students. Now, it's about 1.7 million, I believe, so, kind of a two-thirds decline in the last 57 years. But what happened after the Second Vatican Council and sort of the... All kinds of social forces in the '60s led to a lot of... A decline in religious vocations to both priesthood and consecrated life... The American Catholic school system, above all, was really built by the sisters. I mean, I... Books have been written on this, probably not enough books, just kind of heroic work of these women. But a lot of them were leaving the convent, not many were replacing them, and so, already, by the time I was in grade school, Catholic grade school, I had nuns for three out of my eight years there, and when I went to Central Catholic High School with Christian Brothers, my freshman year, I had all but one course taught by a Christian Brother. I went back a few years ago, I think there are three Christian Brothers at the school.
0:28:39.3 JS: So, clearly, you know, what's happened and where ACE comes in... Into the story is, we stand on the shoulders of these giants, especially the sisters. And I guess you could see ACE as a movement to try to follow in their footsteps, and... Some of the work we do, where our teachers live in community, there's really resemblances with the way things sort of work in a convent, where, you know, some of the younger sisters, the novices, would have been mentored by the more experienced sisters and... And become, in many cases, just quite effective teachers in the process. And so, that decline was, by the 1990s, pretty precipitous, an especially acute problem in the South, because there weren't many Catholic universities in the South. So in a big city like Pittsburgh where I grew up, you had Duquesne University, and you had just a lotta Catholics, period, but there aren't many Catholics in much of the South, and so when the... When the nuns left, these superintendents were really kinda desperate to find faith-filled Christians who could go down and not only have the subject area of competency, but the kinda zeal and faith that would inspire the students of... Of that time.
0:29:49.8 JS: And so that... That's kinda how we got started. I think they were desperate in some ways, and they were willing to take a chance on Notre Dame. One of the things that Father Hesburgh did in the 1970s at Notre Dame was he closed our School of Education, our Department of Education. So we have to humbly admit that for 20 years, Notre Dame did nothing directly to help Catholic schools. What was providential about this, though, was it allowed, when ACE was created, Notre Dame to focus entirely on Catholic education with ACE, without any of the baggage that might come from a department where you have professors who maybe are indifferent to... To faith-based education. The great grant systems and tenure work in... In higher education definitely are an advantage for public schools. There's just a lot more money to get grants and opportunities to study, so, I definitely wish our country's public schools were better, and I'm supportive of them, but I figure it's okay if one university out of 4000 focuses in particular, as we do in ACE, on K-12 Catholic schools. Sorry for a windy answer there.
0:30:53.6 AS: No, that's great. And now, Notre Dame actually offers a supplementary major, ESS, right? Education, Schooling, and Society? Is that helpful?
0:31:01.8 JS: Very much so, because I think what... What we realize, even when ACE was getting started, in some ways, it was a response to Notre Dame students who were migrating to Teach For America, and... And our founder, Father Scully, had a good friend, Sister Lourdes Sheehan, who said, "You know, I really think it'd be great if Notre Dame could do something to help some of these schools." She was a Southerner. Some of these schools in the South. And, you know, they put up a poster that said, "Tired of getting homework? Then give some, be a teacher." I wasn't here at the time, but the story is, 200 undergrads showed up at the inaugural meeting. And I think it shows that there's always been a kinda deep interest among Notre Dame students to do service, and even some... Some latent interest in education, clearly.
0:31:46.6 JS: So, I think the ESS started as a minor, I think... It became the second largest minor in the College of Arts and Letters, and just last year, became a supplementary major. And it's great for... For our work in ACE, because it gives students an opportunity to learn more about Ed policy, and pedagogy, and some of the broader social issues surrounding education. The faculty who are involved in this are just phenomenal, and it really has encouraged students to... To continue in education. Some of them go on directly for graduate degrees or into Ed policy, but a number do go into teaching programs, and I think it's fair to say the majority that go into teaching programs have chosen ACE over the years, so, been a real blessing.
0:32:30.0 AS: Yeah, absolutely. The Institute for Educational Initiatives sort of came after ACE, right? Was it in order to house it within the university? Can you help us understand that?
0:32:38.3 JS: Yeah, exactly. It's, you know, again, a providential history. ACE was founded in '94, and then in '96, I believe it was, one of our pre-eminent sociologists, Dr. Maureen Hallinan, was being courted by the University of Texas at Austin to come, and she loved Notre Dame and convinced the provost that if there were an institute here for Educational Initiatives, she would be more inclined to stay. And... So the original conception of the institute was that it would be a place where there were a number of sociologists who had kinda cognate interest in education, could do the research, and so it was really seen as kind of a research end. So it was started, I wanna say, in '96. It was critical, though, for the... The ultimate transference of ACE from the University of Portland, academically, to Notre Dame, that we had an institute, because at Notre Dame, institutes can grant degrees. And so, ACE then, which was kind of independent, became part of the Institute for Educational Initiatives when we started the Master of Education program here. And... And so, the Institute is the degree... Has a degree-given authority, I suppose, that we wouldn't have had otherwise.
0:33:54.3 AS: Thank you. That's helpful, for sure. And actually, we have a new director, a relatively new director, Mark Berends. We've been talking a lot about strategic mission with that. Do you have a thought there on the work right now, and sort of a look forward?
0:34:06.7 JS: Sure. So, one thing that's happened, I think, happily over the last few years is we've tried to communicate that ACE is part of the Institute for Educational Initiatives, but it is... It's under the umbrella of the Institute, because ACE has been, I think, in so many people's minds, at Notre Dame, because it came first chronologically. They've often seen them as almost identical or completely overlapping vents, and... The Institute's a marvelous home phrase. The new director, Mark Berends, is deeply committed to ACE's mission and helping it to grow and flourish. But there are other things that happen in the institute as well, so there's a rapidly growing Center for... It's called the Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child, led by Dr. Neil Boothby, who comes from Colombia, and that... That is just growing; he's an amazing grant getter. And then a number of other centers, like the Notre Dame Center for STEM Education, led by Matt Kloser, an ACE grad. And I won't list all of its various centers. You can look 'em up online, folks. But...
0:35:08.4 AS: Please do.
0:35:09.8 JS: But ACE is... Is still probably the biggest within that, and then under ACE, we also have, as I mentioned earlier, probably well over a dozen different initiatives, two degrees, two 18-credit certifications, and then other initiatives that offer robust professional development that lead to... You know, we help comprehensive school turnaround, we have a program in educational access that tries to expand publicly funded parental school choice initiatives, and... And so... It's fun. I mean, even during the pandemic, we created three new programs in ACE. So I think that that really... I'm proud of my colleagues. These all just kinda rose internally. People were saying, "Hey, I wanna do this 'cause I see a need." You're even fortunate enough to be able to find the resources to support those needs, and... And they're growing, so...
0:36:01.1 AS: Yeah. For sure. Actually, on that score, where do you see the greatest need right now? Where is the focus for you?
0:36:08.4 JS: I think broadly, in the... The most important area that we're trying to affect is the need for leadership. We do that in terms of school principles through the Mary Ann Remick Leadership program, and also through a... A newish program that... That has a new name called The ACE Principal Academy, which works with current Catholic School principals to try and build their capacity and improve their performance. And again, one happy thing, I suppose, that came out of the pandemic was, educators, like many other folks, became more accustomed to learning remotely. And so, our... Our initial work in... In this good to great program... The ACE Principal Academy was based in Chicago, and it involved a lot of face-to-face coaching. Now we're using Zoom, and we're able to reach principals in a number of dioceses across the country. And the ambition there would be to have this really grow, so that, you know, you can walk into any school and say quickly, "There must be some... Some ACE person leading this school." And leadership is the most profound lever for change. So there's a huge effort across ACE to kind of attract and form leaders. And it starts with ACE Teaching Fellows, in some ways; many of them migrate into positions of... Of leadership in their schools in time, but we see it is ongoing, and we even have a superintendent's workshop and retreat that we do every summer, so...
0:37:34.0 JS: So, the goal is really to... At every step of Catholic education, offer initiatives to help, again, sustain strength and to revitalize those schools.
0:37:44.8 AS: Great. Thank you. The demographics of the church have been changing, focusing on Latino families and the transformational nature of communities. Can you talk a little bit about that, going forward in the church?
0:37:57.8 JS: Sure. So... You know, it's... It's just a fact that the Catholic Church in the United States is going to be largely Latino. And in some ways, the church in the United States has always been an immigrant church. You can go back to the 19th and 20th centuries. You just drive through Chicago and you see, you know, the Polish Catholics' church and school, and then the Ukrainian Catholic church and school, and the Italian... And so, these were founded to support immigrant populations and typically staffed by sisters from that same linguistic and cultural background. And... And the church, we believe, needs to be much more responsive to the newest sort of wave of immigrants, particularly those from Latin America, but also from Southeast Asia, Vietnamese, Filipino...
0:38:50.2 JS: These communities are some of the most vibrant Catholics, and they're also younger demographically, so, it's really a shame that only 4% of school-aged Latino children go to Catholic school, and there are reasons for this: Financial, cultural... You know, in Mexico, for example, Catholic schools have existed typically for the oligarchy, not for the working class, and so, we're just trying to do everything we can to... To help school leaders and pastors present a welcoming environment for the Latino families in their midst, but also, through the Hernandez Fellows, and the ENL program, and other initiatives, to equip the educators in those schools to serve English language learners more effectively, and also just to be more culturally literate and effective.
0:39:41.0 JS: Obviously, a lotta Latinos in this country don't even know Spanish, so it's not just the language, but there is a cultural dimension that we think our schools really need to... To get better at, in many cases. And... And when it can happen, it's just miraculous, the kinda growth that we can see. I just look at Holy Cross School here in town, which is situated a mile and a half from Notre Dame, and through the efforts of Dr. Katy Lichon and her team, has embarked on a two-way immersion, or a dual language instruction track, and so, the enrollment since they began this, has gone from about 180, I think, to almost 400 just in about four or five years. So, these are the kinda things... My dream in ACE is, why can't we be the center for a network of dozens and then maybe hundreds of dual language or two-way immersion schools? You know, especially English-Spanish, but in multiple languages. What we found at Holy Cross is that Anglos actually see these as a great way for their children to learn, because they realized by eighth grade, my son or daughter will emerge bilingual, and what a gift that is. So, yeah, it's really been an important set of initiatives. We hope to make the church and its schools more responsive to these... This new demographic that's growing and represents the church of the future. But also, if we can do so, that will, I think, in turn, revitalize many Catholic schools that are, at this point, struggling with enrollment. That's a win-win.
0:41:13.9 AS: Absolutely. Steve and I had the pleasure of going down to Austin, Texas, a week or so ago, to the cathedral school of St. Mary, and what a... Oh, what a vibrant community that is, and so welcoming, it... It was transformational. You're educating these incredibly intelligent, compassionate people who are going into the ACE program. And... And they're seeing a lotta stuff in these schools and just in the world that they want to do their best in... In helping with. And I know Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion certainly comes into some of those elements, and it's a large concern of how to best be helpful. Can you talk a little bit about that, and how ACE is incorporating some of those best practices?
0:41:53.0 JS: Sure, happy to. You know, gosh, it would have been shortly after George Floyd's killing that we received a letter signed by a number of our alumni, ACE graduates, that challenged us, one might even say accused us of not doing enough in this area. And it was hard, because... It's hard to take, because those of us who have been doing this work feel in our hearts, we are very committed to this, but it... It also was a check to say, you know, "What can we do more, and what can we do better, and... And how can we listen carefully and learn?" It's obviously quite a painful time in... In the history of the United States, and we see that just this past weekend, with what happened in Buffalo, it's just like... I remember when Columbine happened. That's all people talked about for days. I stopped my class that day at Notre Dame, and we just talked about that. And we're getting used to this as a country. Shamefully.
0:42:47.5 JS: And so... So we really have tried to rededicate ourselves to not just be a follower, if you will, but a leader in this area. You know, we recognize that our team needs itself to become more diverse. But as my colleague Ernest Morrell says, you know, "The first question you have to ask is, who are you serving?" And on that count, the majority of students that ACE serves are low income people of color. And then you have to ask, "Well, who's doing the service?", and we... We put a lot of work into trying to form cohorts in... In our Teaching Fellows, in our Remick Leadership Program, who are themselves diverse. And then the next question is, and the final one, "Well, what about your own organization?" So, I would say we have a lot of progress to make there.
0:43:35.1 JS: What I... What I would also say though is... And we are deeply committed to this, and here's where I think we... We may have things to offer Catholic education and even the broader church. Rather than see the work of DEI as somehow in conflict with Catholicism... And there are certain elements or manifestations of DEI work which can be driven by agnostic, even atheistic power politics, and frankly, we're not interested in that. But we think... It all comes back to the gospel, the example of Christ, and... And the body of Catholic social teaching, which... Which tells us that every single soul is made in the image and likeness of God. And I can't think of a more... In some ways, in our own time, radical, animating principle. And... And things like preferential option for the poor, solidarity... This rich body of Catholic social teaching, I think, has so much to offer our country and... And really, the world.
0:44:38.9 JS: Racism has a particular history, an agonizing one in the United States, but it's certainly not confined to the United States; it's a problem throughout the world. And I think the Church certainly has its own painful chapters in this history, but if we just return to the gospel and the principles of Catholic social teaching, we have a lot to offer the world, I believe. And Catholic schools, in particular, in this area. Practically speaking, what has this meant? Well, we've rethought how we try to form our ACE teachers, and our Remick leaders, and... And even ourselves. We've devoted a number of retreats of our team to these themes. It's never gonna be a problem that is solved, obviously, but one has to live in hope and... And constantly try to leave things in better shape than they were received, I suppose.
0:45:28.2 AS: There is an element of hope to what you're saying, and I appreciate that.
0:45:32.0 JS: Oh, thanks.
0:45:34.0 AS: Actually, on that score, are you hopeful for... For this sort of immediate future and past that for ACE and... And others?
0:45:40.6 JS: I choose to be hopeful. I mean, to be not hopeful is to just give in to cynicism, and then what's the point? So, I think... You know, it's a theological virtue, and I just choose to be hopeful, and I don't think that makes me naïve. I... You know, I hope not, or pollyannaish, but, I think, just hope is something one has to work at and choose. And whether one's involved in the environmental movement, or one's involved somehow in geopolitical challenges... Are we gonna be on the cusp of a third word war? We don't know, but I think one has to kinda use one's gifts as best one can in one's corner of the world and what one's interested in to try and approach challenges with hope. And so, I just kinda choose to do that. Yeah, one could look at the narrative of the last 50-some years and think, you know, "This is pointless." There's a great line in The Lord of the Rings by my favorite character, Galadriel, who says, "For ages, I have fought the long defeat against evil," but she herself refuses to give up. And it's still worth fighting.
0:46:42.0 JS: And so, yeah, I don't think the next few years are gonna be filled with a ton of great news. We're in a time of great disaffiliation of young people, and even, you know, middle-aged people from organized religion, etcetera. But maybe this is a call to the church again; I think it is, to... To me, to... To go back to the gospel, to go back to the root of... Of Christianity, and... You know, the reason the Church spread so well early is just... Everyone around looked and said, "Why are those people so filled with joy?" I mean, that's the question, so I think we just have to be people of joy, even in the face of challenges and struggles, because we know in the end, beyond this world, Christ's cross and resurrection is one final victory. So, you know, as the old song goes, "How can I keep from singing?" We just have to choose joy and hope, even in the face of stiff headwinds. Do your best. That's all you can do, I suppose, but it's worth doing. Otherwise, what are you gonna do, just crawl into a corner and suck your thumb? That's not much of an option.
0:47:43.7 AS: I'm gonna pass on that. And... And people pay me not to sing, but I... I take your point, which... I... I appreciate so much all you're doing for ACE... The whole organization and Catholic schools, and we're lucky to have you, and thank you so much for joining us today. Really appreciate you being here.
0:48:00.8 JS: Well, thank you, Audrey. You... You do this splendidly, and you've made it a lot of fun for me, so, I appreciate it.
0:48:07.9 AS: Thank you so much, John.
0:48:08.9 JS: Take good care.
0:48:11.8 AS: And thank you all for joining us for Think. Pair. Share. If you enjoyed this episode, head on over to Apple Podcasts to subscribe, rate, and leave a review. It's very much appreciated. Check out our website at iei.nd.edu/media, for this and other goodies. Thanks for listening, and for now, off we go.