How fortunate is St. John Vianney Catholic School to have the next generation of Catholic education teachers, leaders, advocates and educators on our campus thanks to the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) teaching program through the University of Notre Dame?
Under Mrs. Amy Hale, Principal, SJV School is going on our sixth school year in partnership with the ACE Program, SJV School has been blessed with four teachers who have graced our campus, joined our community and taught our students.
Ms. Lindsey McKaig, from Ann Arbor Michigan, is wrapping up her final teaching days at SJV School after spending her two-year placement assignment as an ACE Teaching Fellow with our SJV Tigers. At the conclusion of the 2022-2023 school year Ms. McKaig will hold a Master in Education from the University of Notre Dame to accompany her Bachelors in Arts from Loyola University, Chicago. An impressive and inspiring accomplishment for a young adult who has managed a full-time job as a teacher, in a new city, away from family and anything familiar. This work is not for the faint at heart.
After Ms. McKaig’s K-12, and beyond, Catholic education journey there was little doubt that she would find herself in a classroom inspiring the next generation of Catholic school students. As one of four girls in her family, Ms. McKaig is surrounded by variety. Her parents and sisters have all chosen career paths and personal interests that span the spectrum from public service to medical to a PhD candidate, athletics and education. Ms. McKaig was a student who experienced the sparkle of teaching as a second grader herself. It is here that she first experienced how a teacher could teach curriculum and simultaneously love and support students. “My teacher had a warm demeanor and yet she would challenge me to be the best version of myself regardless of what I was doing. She was open to guiding me as a young person.” Ms. McKaig’s path to teaching began as an English tutor and piano teacher. It is here that she knew that education was her calling. This was how Ms. McKaig would show her appreciation for God and the gifts he bestowed upon her. She would teach. As an undergraduate student at Loyola University, she applied to the ACE program after learning about it from an elementary school friend. Upon acceptance, Ms. McKaig was all-in on the ACE program, becoming an ambassador at Loyola and helping to promote and educate the next generation of ACE students. She led Zoom meetings and information seminars, passed out promotional materials and enjoyed talking with prospective students about the program’s potential and benefits. Ms. McKaig was and still is passionate about teaching. And it shows.
Upon her arrival to Rancho Cordova, California and St. John Vianney Catholic School, Ms. McKaig will forever remember the respect from the incoming fourth grade families and students. This unspoken respect was not something she expected as a first-year teacher, new to the area, new to the SJV community. Ms. McKaig recalls this experience as a blessing as she began her assignment at St. John Vianney Catholic School. “They realized my great care and love for each of their children, my passion for education, my deep yearning for my students’ academic, personal, spiritual, and emotional growth, and how much I care that they journey to be the best version of themselves–to college and to Heaven! With this, they offer support inside and outside the classroom and, with that, this translates into respect shown by their children as well.” One could make a case that the virtue of respect has had a ripple effect in and around the fourth-grade classroom. It is these moments that humble us a school community, knowing that the lessons and opportunities put before the students do in fact resonate when it matters. And even more so, influencing behaviors in the homes and lives of our students. This is an example of the magic that happens in the SJV community. As a new teacher there have certainly been hard days. Ms. McKaig is not shy to share how her experience as an ACE Teaching Fellow has been exhausting. The days are long, navigating a new career in a new community while learning how to practice professionalism at her age and stage in life. She moved into a house with five strangers, had her own graduate program school work to complete, lost a close friend unexpectedly, managed a never-ending schedule while keeping her students’ needs and success at the forefront of her mind and energy. Ms. McKaig has traversed this path with the grace of God to guide her and with a smile on her face. This is all possible because of what students show her every day in her classroom. She is profoundly impacted by the student’s willingness to learn. Regardless of the circumstances, her students continue to show up, to be present, to try. “Their smiles, jokes, laughter, bright ideas, and positivity have been immeasurable gifts in my life that I am blessed to experience and benefit from daily.”
Should you know someone with a budding love for education, maybe they should learn about the possibilities and opportunities within the ACE Teaching Fellows Master of Education program at University of Notre Dame. Mr. Mark Johnson, a supervising faculty member with the ACE program, and advisor for Ms. McKaig and past SJV School ACE teachers says that the long-stand partnership between St. John Vianney Catholic School and ACE is mutually beneficial. He has seen each of the ACE teachers who have experienced teaching at SJV School blossom and rise to the challenge as teachers, as young professionals. The ACE program prepares their students academically with enriching coursework at the post-graduate level, intensive summer sessions and on-going classes throughout the year all the while the students are also playing the role as a teacher in their own classrooms across the country. Mr. Johnson is inspired by the stories of students turned teachers when they find the connection to their school community. He says, “this is what we train you for” in regards to what the assimilation experience can be like for ACE teachers. The ACE program prepares teachers to do more than the three R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic), it offers a spirit infused education where each student recognizes the opportunity that God has put before them, encourages their humility and openness to grow all the while setting the table for resiliency to arrive in the face of doubt. Mr. Johnson has seen grit emerge from ACE teachers as they find their way to inspire students to want to be the best version of themselves. Watching this playout in real time is the gift of the hard work he manages when supervising young teachers who are outside of their comfort zone and yet still manage to perform. The University of Notre Dame’s ACE Teaching Fellow Program is reputable and available to those who are open to the experience. Ms. McKaig says of the program, “ACE is the most well-run organization.” From her first day on the ND campus, she felt valued, people knew her name, and she knew she was important. She says to the next ACE teacher, “This career–teaching–is hard work. It is a marathon not a sprint.” Ms. McKaig has discovered her gift from God, and that she shares the gift of truly feeling “alive” with others who have also followed their calling into education. For Ms. McKaig there is an organic ripple effect happening when she turns off the lights at the end of each day because she too is excited and has great anticipation to come back to the classroom tomorrow.