By Gabriella Karina     10/2/2018

The Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) is an intensive, two-year program of the University of Notre Dame that develops highly motivated and committed educators to meet the needs of Catholic Schools. ACE recruits talented graduates from colleges and universities across the country with a variety of undergraduate disciplines, backgrounds and experiences. The three pillars of the program are teacher formation, community life, and spiritual growth.  The Diocese of Orange welcomes five ACE Teaching Fellows this 2018-2019 school year: Oonagh Barry, Daniel Hodge, Frankie Karczewski, Hannah Beighle, and Katie Willis. They are a select cohort of the nation’s top emerging Catholic educators. 


Oonagh Barry (ACE 24) is returning to St. Joseph School in Santa Ana as a third grade teacher. A native of Ireland, Barry comes to South Bend and Southern California after learning about the program from ACE in Ireland. Barry’s second year focus in the program is reading and writing with the students. She is being intentional in creating a classroom culture that upholds the dignity of every student. 


Daniel Hodge (ACE 24) is teaching Middle School English Language Arts and Science at Saint Anne Parish School in Santa Ana. Hodge’s favorite teaching moment is “being able to form life changing relationships with students who sometimes impact you with their energy and ideas more than you could have ever imagined.” By partaking in the ACE program, he found not just a community but a family of educators. Prior to teaching at Saint Anne School, Hodge received his undergraduate degree from Gonzaga University in Creative Writing and Philosophy. 


Frankie Karczewski (ACE 24) is teaching Language Arts for middle school students at St. Justin Martyr in Anaheim. Karczewski felt compelled to teach in Catholic school because of his experience in participating and coaching athletic programs. He said, “respect, teamwork, and creating an inclusive community” are important aspect in his teaching philosophy. Karczewski came to Orange County last year after earning his degree in History at Indiana University South Bend. He is grateful of everyone’s support for ACE Santa Ana — from Bishop Vann, Department of Catholic Schools Leadership, the Notre Dame Club of Orange County, Principal Balsis, and the school community. His favorite teaching moment is watching students have an “A-ha” moment when they begin to understand a concept. 


Hannah Beighle (ACE 25) is teaching 3rd grade at St. Polycarp School in Stanton.  Beighle received her B.B.A. in Marketing with a minor in Education, Schooling, and Society from the University of Notre Dame and decided to continue with teaching. While this is her first year teaching at St. Polycarp, a Blended Learning Universe (BLU) school, she steps into her classroom confident. Whether it’s establishing procedures, gathering baseline data, or managing a classroom, Beighle knows that she has the full support from her peers, supervisors, and colleagues. 


Katie Willis (ACE 25) attended Catholic schools from kindergarten through 12th grade in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. She is now teaching 4th Grade at School of Our Lady in Santa Ana. Willis came to Orange County after completing her B.A. in Psychology, B.A. in Spanish at Gettysburg College. While she was in college, she participated in El Centro, an after-school program where she tutored local Hispanic elementary school students in addition to being a student athlete. Willis was a senior-year NCAA lacrosse captain who finished her career with the Bullets with more than 100 points. Willis is grateful to have stepped into the footsteps of another ACE teacher at School of Our Lady. When asked about her role as a Catholic educator, she gives credit to her experiences in Catholic schools growing up and the opportunities she found through Notre Dame for spiritual growth. Community life with fellow teachers help her not only to share best practices on classroom strategies but also to become a reflective teacher that can model the faith to younger students. While in South Bend, Willis values the on-campus sense of community and daily Mass in the Chapel. She looks forward to having a prayer corner in her classroom.