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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mary Grace Mangano ('14): ACE Teaching Fellows Program

From Mary Grace Mangano:
In 2014, I graduated from Villanova with an Honors degree in English, a Concentration in Writing and Rhetoric, and a minor in Italian. During my time at Villanova, I held various positions on the editorial staff of The Villanovan, including Editor-in-Chief my senior year. I was also actively involved as an English advisor, Honors advisor, and a student-athlete tutor for English. I was also fortunate to go on two service break trips, which I discovered through my involvement with Campus Ministry. Much of my service experiences, as well as my interest in Peace and Justice and time as a volunteer ambassador for Catholic Relief Services and as an intern at Catholic Charities in Philadelphia helped to grow my interest in service and mission-based ventures.

After graduating, I had plans to enter the nonprofit world and so I began a Master’s in Management at the University of Notre Dame. However, during my year-long Master’s program, another opportunity that I had turned away from during my senior year began to call my name again. I decided to learn more about the Alliance for Catholic Education’s Teaching Fellows program. Through this program, Teaching Fellows serve in under-served Catholic schools around the country for two years, while also earning a cost-free Master’s in Education from the University of Notre Dame.

The program’s three main pillars are community, spirituality, and teaching. When I applied, I knew it was not the path I had originally intended, but the one that I felt was my calling — to learn to be a teacher and serve students and communities that are in need. I also knew that I could be placed in any of the 30+ cities that ACE serves and that I could be teaching any grade level. This both scared and excited me. In the spring of 2015, I found out that I was accepted to serve at Saint Ann School in Chicago, Illinois as a middle school Language Arts and Religion teacher.

I began classes at Notre Dame that following summer and started teaching last Fall. It has been an incredible and challenging year of growing and learning to be the teacher my students need me to be. My community members have helped me to be better and to continue striving. Their support was invaluable during the first year of teaching. Now, going into my second year of the program, I am excited to try new things with my students and to be reminded of the constant privilege I have of watching them discover who they are, and who God is. I always come back to Saint Augustine — being a Wildcat at heart — and know that my heart — and my students’ hearts — are restless until they rest in God. Teaching, especially through a program like ACE, is a blessed way to help children find rest in God.

I would be happy to talk in detail about my experience with anyone who is interested in ACE, or to answer any questions you might have (mmanga03@villanova.edu). Please check out ace.nd.edu and ace.nd.edu/teach/chicago for more info! Go Cats!

Mary Grace Mangano