Five Indianapolis Catholic schools will become Notre Dame ACE Academies beginning this fall. The university’s ACE Academies are a network of K-8 schools that operate through Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education. The schools will continue to be operated by the Indianapolis Archdiocese in Partnership with ACE, focusing on academic excellence and Catholic culture for students and their families.
The five schools are Central Catholic, Holy Angels, Holy Cross, St. Anthony, and St. Philip Neri, which are currently consolidated under the Mother Theodore Catholic Academies group. They serve the most under-resourced students in the Indianapolis Archdiocese. A sixth school, located in Palm Beach, Florida is being added the ACE Academies as well; the network currently includes two schools the Diocese of Tuscon, two in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, and four in the Diocese of Orlando.
ACE Academies Senior Director Christian Dallavis says the new partnership is well underway and that school staff members will spend a week at Notre Dame this summer in preparation for implementing the new model. “In our experience, we find that when you raise expectations, kids invariably rise to meet them.” He cites the Tuscon and Tampa-area schools as an example of the Academies’ success. “Every year that we’ve taken the (assessment) tests our kids have made more than a year’s worth of growth over the course of each year that we’ve taken the tests.”
The ACE Academies’ goals for its students are plainly stated in their branding: College and Heaven.
“We don’t have any lower bar than that. We tell each of our kids from the time they start with us that we expect that they’ll be capable of going to college and that they’ll be capable of becoming saints,” explains Dallavis.
Leaders say the ACE faculty and staff will work closely with school and diocesan leaders throughout the network to increase academic achievement, boost enrollment and strengthen the schools’ Catholic identity by enhancing school leadership, curriculum, instruction, professional development, financial management, and marketing.
“We don’t just have a handbook, we’ll be working with the staff members from a playbook based on a set of root beliefs,” says Dallavis.
Davallis explains why Indiana has one of the best policy climates allowing ACE Academies to close the achievement gap.